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I2MO,  ILLUSTRATED.       PER  VOL.,  $1.50 

THE  STORY  OF  GREECE.     By  Prof.  Jas.  A.  Harrison 

THE  STORY  OF  ROME.     By  Arthur  Gilman 

THE  STORY  OF  THE  JEWS.     By  Prof.  Jas.  K.  Hosmer 

THE  STORY  OF  CHALDEA.     By  Z.  A.  Ragozin 

THE  STORY  OF  GERMANY.     By  S.  Baring-Gould 

THE  STORY  OF  NORWAY.     By  Prof.  H.  H.  Bovesen 

THE  STORY  OF  SPAIN.     By  E.  E.  and  Susan  Hale 

THE  STORY  OF  HUNGARY.     By  Prof.  A.  Vamb^ry 

THE  STORY  OF  CARTHAGE.     By  Prof.  Alfred  J.  Church 

THE  STORY  OF  THE  SARACENS.     By  Arthur  Gilman 

THE  STORY  OF  THE  MOORS  IN  SPAIN.  By  Stanley  Lane-Poole 

THE  STORY  OF  THE  NORMANS.     By  Sarah  O.  Jewett 

THE  STORY  OF  PERSIA.     By  S.  G.  W.  Benjamin 

THE  STORY  OF  ANCIENT  EGYPT.     By  Geo.  Rawlinson 

THE  STORY  OF  ALEXANDER'S  EMPIRE.  By  Prof.  J. P. Mahaffv 

THE  STORY  OF  ASSYRIA.     By  Z.  A.  Ragozin 

THE  STORY  OF  IRELAND.     By  Hon.  Emily  Lawless 

THE  STORY  OF  THE  GOTHS.     By  Henry  Bradley 

For  prospectus  of  the  series  see  end  of  this  volume 


ffhe    Mox^  ojj  the  j\!ntions 


Story  of  the  Goths 










By  G.  p.  Putnam's  Sons 


Entered  at  Stationers'  fJai/,  London 

By  T.  Fisher  Unwtn 

Press  of 

G.   V.  Putnam's   Sons 
New  York 


This  little  volume  is,  so  far  as  I  have  been  able  to 
discover,  the  first  English  book  expressly  treating  of 
the  history  of  the  Goths.  Adequately  to  supply  the 
strange  deficiency  in  our  literature  indicated  by  this 
fact  is  a  task  that  will  require  powers  far  greater  than 
mine.  Some  day,  perhaps,  the  story  of  the  Goths 
will  be  told  in  English  by  a  writer  possessing  the  rare 
combination  of  literary  skill  and  profound  scholarship 
that  will  be  needed  to  do  it  justice.  But  in  the  mean- 
time I  would  fain  hope  that  this  brief  sketch  may  be 
found  to  have  a  sufficient  reason  for  its  existence.  I 
have  made  no  attempt  to  write  a  brilliant  narrative, 
well  knowing  that  success  in  such  an  attempt  is 
beyond  my  reach.  My  aim  has  been  to  relate  the 
facts  of  the  history  as  correctly  as  I  could,  and  with 
the  simplicity  of  language  required  by  the  plan  of  the 
series  in  which  the  work  appears — a  series  intended 
not  for  scholars,  but  for  readers  in  whom  little 
knowledge  of  general  history  is  to  be  pre-supposed. 

If  this  volume  should  fall  into  the  hand  of  scholars, 


it  will  perhaps  be  obvious  that  I  have  not  neglected 
to  read  most  of  the  original  sources  of  the  history  ; 
but  it  may  be  still  more  obvious  that  I  have  not  the 
thorough  familiarity  with  them  that  might  justly  be 
demanded  if  I  claimed  for  my  work  any  independent 
historical  value.  Remembering  the  dangers  of  "  a 
little  learning,"  I  have  endeavoured  to  escape  them 
by  refraining  from  expressing  any  views  which  have 
not  the  sanction  of  at  least  one  modern  scholar  of 
repute.  The  prescribed  plan  of  the  work  has,  of 
course,  not  permitted  me  either  to  adduce  arguments 
or  to  cite  authorities  in  justification  of  the  particular 
conclusions  adopted. 

Among  the  English  writers  to  whom  I  am  indebted, 
the  first  place  belongs  to  Gibbon,  whose  greatness 
appears  to  me  in  a  new  light  since  I  have  tried  to 
compare  a  small  portion  of  his  wonderful  work  with 
the  materials  out  of  which  it  was  constructed.  I  also 
owe  much  to  Mr.  Hodgkin's  "  Italy  and  her  Invaders," 
and  to  various  articles  by  Mr.  E.  A.  Freeman.  Among 
foreign  writers  my  principal  guide  has  been  Dahn  ; 
I  have  also  made  extensive  use  of  the  works  of 
Bessell,  Waitz,  Aschbach,  Manso,  and  Lembke.  To 
mention  the  titles  of  books  that  have  been  merely 
consulted  on  special  points  seems  to  me  to  be  un- 
necessary, and,  unless  elaborate  explanations  could  be 
added,  likely  to  be  also  misleading. 

Some  surprise  may  perhaps  be  occasioned  by  the 
date  chosen  for  the  accompanying  map.  My  reason 
for  selecting  the  year  485  rather  than  526  is  that,  if 
only  one  map  is  to  be  given,  the  map  representing 
the  state  of  Europe  at  the  culminating  period  of  the 



Visigoth  dominion,  is  more  useful  for  the  illustration 
of  Gothic  history  as  a  whole,  than  one  relating  to  the 
later  and  intrinsically  more  interesting  epoch. 



November  ^  1887. 



Who  were  the  Goths 


Earliest  notices  of  the  Goths  :  Pytheas,  Pliny,  Tacitus,  i  — 
Why  the  story  is  worth  telling,  3— The  people  and  its  names, 
5— Goths  and  Gepids,  7— Other  kindred  peoples,  8— What 
the  Goths  looked  like,  9 -Their  national  characteristics,  ii— 
Their  manners  and  polity,  12— Gothic  heathenism,  13— The 
runes,  15— Goths  and  Getes,  19— Emigration  from  the  Baltic 
shores,  20. 


From  the  Baltic  to  the  Danube  .         .         .       21-29 

Why  the  Goths  came  southward,  21— Traditions  of  the  wan- 
dering, 23— Ostrogotha  the  Patient,  24— First  conflict  with  the 
Romans,  26— King  Cniva's  victory,  27— Ruin  of  a  Roman 
army,  28— The  emperor  purchases  peace,  29. 


Fire  and  Sword  in  Asia  and  Greece 


Miseries  of  the  empire,  30— Fifteen  grievous  years,  31— Plun- 
der of  Ephesus  and  Athens,  32—"  Let  the  Greeks  have  their 
books,"  33— Claudius  Gothicus,  34— Fifty  years  of  peace,  37. 




How  THE  Goths  Fought  with  Constantine  .       38-42 

The  Goths  in  Dacia,  38 — The  long  peace  broken,  39 — Con- 
stantine victorious,  41 — Geberic  and  the  Vandals,  42. 


The  Gothic  Alexander  .....       43-49 

The  empire  of  Ermanaric,  43 — The  Huns  are  coming,  45  — The 
tyrant's  end,  46 — The  Ostrogoths  enslaved,  47 — The  three 
royal  brothers,  48 — Birth  of  Theoderic,  49. 


The  Judges  of  the  Visigoths         .        .        .       50-55 

The  three  kingdoms  of  the  Visigoths,  50— Events  at  Con- 
stantinople, 51 — Weakness  of  Valens,  52 — Athanaric  quarrels 
with  the  Romans,  53 — A  peace  concluded,  54 — The  Visigoths 
pressed  by  the  Huns,  55. 


The  Apostle  of  the  Goths    ....       56-64 

V^ulfila  the  bishop,  56 — His  birth  and  education,  57 — "''A 
second  Moses,"  58 — Arians  and  Catholics,  59— Wulfila's  Gothic 
Bible,  61 — His  death,  64. 


Frithigern    and    Valens  —  The    Battle    of 

Hadrianople      .         .         .         .         .         .       65-75 

The  Visigoths  cross  the  Danube,  65 — They  are  oppressed  by 
the  Romans,  67— Piitience  of  Frithigern,  68— A  rebellion  at 
last,  69— Indignation  against  Valens,  70 — The  battle  of  Had- 
rianople, 72 — A  sad  day  for  Rome,  75. 

CONTENTS.  xiii 



The  Goths  and  Theodosius    ....       76-83 

Constantinople  in  danger,  76 — Massacre  of  Gothic  hostages, 
78 — Wise  policy  of  Theodosius,  79 — Athanaric  at  Constanti- 
nople, 80 — The  Goths  under  Roman  rule,  81 — The  Roman 
army  filled  with  Goths — Danger  to  the  empire,  83. 


Alaric  the  Balthing 84-98 

Death  of  Theodosius  ;  his  unworthy  successors,  84 — Alaric 
chosen  king,  85 — His  campaigns  in  Greece,  86 — The  Visigoths 
invade  Italy,  87 — They  are  defeated  and  retire,  88 — Radagais 
and  his  invasion,  89 — Stilicho's  bargain  with  Alaric,  91 — 
Roman  treachery,  92 — Alaric  returns ;  Rome  surrounded  by 
the  Goths,  92 — Alaric  master  of  Italy,  95 — Rome  taken  by 
storm,  96 — Alaric's  death,  97 — His  funeral,  98. 


King  Atawulf  and  his  Roman  Queen  .         .     99-105 

What  had  happened  in  the  East,  99 — Atawulf's  plans  of  do- 
minion, 100 — The  wedding  at  Narbonne,  loi — Murder  of 
Atawulf,  103 — What  became  of  Placidia,  105. 


The  Kingdom  of  Toulouse     ....  106-125 

The  gifr  of  Aqiiitaine,  106 — Theoderic  the  Visigoth,  107— The 
Huns  invade  Gaul,  in — The  battle  of  Moirey,  113— The 
second  Theoderic,  114— The  Vandals  at  Rome,  115 — Rikimer 
the  emperor-maker,  116 — Culmination  of  the  Visigoth  do- 
minions, 117 — Beeinnings  of  decline,  119 — Aggression  of  ihe 
Franks,  121— The  Hart's  Ford,  123— The  field  of  Voclad,  124 
— The  Visigoths  driven  from  Gaul,  125. 



How  THE  Western  Empire  came  to  an  End.  126-132 

Orestes  the  Illyrian,  126^"  Romulus  Augustulus,"  127 — The 
mixed  multitude  and  their  king,  128 — End  of  the  Western 
Empire,  130 — Odovacar,  king  of  Italy,  131. 


The  Boyhood  of  Theoderic    ....  133-137 

Grievances  of  the  Ostrogoths,  133 — The  boy  Theoderic  at  Con- 
stantinople, 134 — His  education  and  early  distinction  in  war, 
135 — He  succeeds  to  the  kingdom,  137. 


The  Rival  Namesakes 138-144 

The  Emperor  Zeno,  138 — The  two  Theoderics,  139 — The  em- 
peror's duplicity,  142 — Death  of  Theoderic  Strabo,  143 — The 
Amaling  bidden  to  conquer  Italy,  144. 


How  the  Ostrogoths  won  Italy    .  .  1 45-1 51 

A  march  in  winter,  145 — The  battle  of  Verona,  147 — Ravenna 
surrenders,  149 — Murder  of  Odovacar,  150. 

The  Wisdom  of  Theoderic      ....  152-173 

Theoderic,  king  of  Italy,  153 — A  bishop  pleading  for  his 
flock,  153 — The  king's  beneficence,  154 — Gothic  colonists  in 
Italy,  155 — Theoderic  virtually  a  Western  Ctcsar,  156 — Re- 
form of  taxation,  157 — Religious  toleration,  158 — "Bread 
and  Circus  games,"  160— Patronage  of  the  arts,  161 — Letters 


and  science  ;  Cassiodorus,  Symmachus,  Boethius,  165 — En- 
couragement of  trade,  166 — The  Ostrogothic  polity,  169 — 
Administration  of  justice,  170 — Theoderic's  ideal  of  govern- 
ment, 171— His  legendary  fame,  172 — A  "beneficent  des- 
potism ;  "  its  merits  and  its  weakness,  173. 


Theoderic  and  His  Foreign  Neighbours       .   1 74-1 81 

Theoderic's  desire  for  peace,  174  — Royal  marriages,  175— A 
magnificent  scheme,  176— Two  foreign  wars,  177 — Theoderic 
regent  of  the  Visigoth  kingdom,  iSo— A  bloodless  conquest, 


Theoderic's  Evil  Days 182-190 

The  beginning  of  trouble,  182— Boethius  condemned,  183— 
His  famous  book,  184— Symmachus  put  to  death,  184— Panic 
legislation,  185— The  pope  thrown  into  prison,  186— Death  of 
Theoderic,  187— Violation  of  his  tomb,  189— His  noble  cha- 
racter, 190. 


A  Queen's  Tkourles         .....   191-207 

An  infant  sovereign,  191  — Amalaswintha  the  queen  regent, 
192— Her  education  of  her  son  ;  discontent  of  the  Goths,  195 
—Justinian's  schemes  of  conq'uest,  198— Death  of  Athalaric,20i 
—Amalaswintha  and  Theodahad,  203 — Murder  of  the  Queen, 
204 — ^Justinian  declares  war,  207. 


An  Unkingly  King  .         .         .         .         •  208-220 

Justinian's  precautions,  208 — Belisarius  captures  Sicily,  209 — 
Theodahad's  terrors,  210 — The  sibyl's  prophecy,  212 — Theo- 
dahad recovers  confidence,  213— The  Goths  lose  Naples,  214 
—Indignation  of  the  Goths,  218 — Theodahad  deposed  and 
killed,  219. 



WiTiGis  THE  Unready      .....  221-233 

The  new  king,  222 — His  mistaken  policy,  222 — Queen  Mata- 
swintha,  223 — Belisariu  senters  Rome,  224 — Witigis  moves  at 
last,  226 — The  first  skirmish,  228 — Wandilhari  the  Bison,  230 
— The  siege  of  Rome  begins,  232. 

The  Year-long  Siege       .....  234-257 

Elaborate  preparations  of  the  Goths,  234 — Belisarius  not  to  be 
frightened,  237 — Blundering  Gothic  strategy,  239 — Failure  of 
the  assault,  242 — The  garrison  reinforced,  243 — Sorties  of  the 
Romans,  245 — A  rigorous  blockade.  249 — A  three  months' 
truce,  253  — Treachery  of  Witigis,  254  —  The  siege  raised, 


Witigis  in  Hiding 258-267 

March  of  the  Goths  to  Ravenna,  258 — They  besiege  Rimini, 
260 — The  arrival  of  Narses,  261 — The  Goths  put  to  flight,  263 
— Quarrels  of  the  Roman  generals,  263 — The  Goths  capture 
Milan,  265 — Horrors  of  famine,  266. 

I'he  Goths  lose  Ravenna        ....  268-275 

Blockade  of  Ravenna,  268— Justinian  offers  terms,  269— A 
strange  proposal,  270— Belisarius  enters  Ravenna,  271— He  is 
recalled  to  Constantinople,  272— Refuses  the  Gothic  crown, 
275— His  character,  274— Justinian's  blunder,  275. 

XX  \T. 

New  Gothic  Victories 276-285 

Justinian's  rapacity,  276— Reviving  fortunes  of  the  Goths,  277 
— Totila  elected  king,  279— His  first  victories,  280— His  hu- 
manity to  the  conquered,  282— Discontent  in  Rome,  284— The 
Roman  cause  despaired  of,  28^. 




The  Failure  of  Belisarius      ....  286-297 

Belisarius  returns  to  Italy,  287— Why  was  he  not  successful? 
287— Continued  blockade  of  Rome,  288— The  mission  of  Pela- 
gius,  289— Famine  in  the  city,  290— The  citizens  allowed  to 
depart,  291— Rome  taken  by  Totila,  293— The  great  city  de- 
serted, 295— Belisarius  re-enters  Rome,  296— A  valueless 
exploit,  297— Belisarius  abandons  the  struggle  ;  his  return  to 
Constantinople,  297. 


The  Ruin  of  the  Ostrogoths  298-314 

Rome  once  more  in  Gothic  hands,  298— Rebuilding  of  the  ruins, 
300- The  expedition  of  Germanus,  301— His  death,  302— 
Narses  sent  to  conquer  Italy,  303— How  he  marched  into  Italy, 
304— He  encamps  near  Tadino,  305— The  great  battle,  306— 
Totila's  death,  3P7-His  character,  308— Tela  chosen  kmg, 
308— Battle  of  Mons  Lactarius  ;  death  of  Teia,  310— Invasion 
of  the  Franks  and  Alamans.  31 1— End  of  this  Ostrogoth  kmg- 
dom,  313— The  exarchate  of  Ravenna,  314- 


The  Visigoths  again        .         •         •  •  ^^SS^'^ 

Obscurity  of  the  history,  315-Amalaric's  marriage,  316- 
Usurpation  of  Theudis,  317-Theudis  murdered;  resigns  c-t 
Theudigisel  and  Agila,  318-Reign  of  Athanagild  ;  his 
daughters  Brunihild  and  Geleswintha,  3I9- 


Leovigild  and  His  Sons.         .        •        •         •  321-32 

Leovigild's  able  rule,  321 -His  magnificence,  322-Rebellion 
of  Ermenegild,  322-  His  "  martyrdom,"  325-Leovigild  and 
the  Church,  326. 

xviii  CONTENTS. 



The  Goths  become  Catholic  ....  327-332 

King  Reccared's  policy,  327 — The  conversion  of  the  Goths, 
328 — The  words  Visigoth  and  bigot ^  329— Reccared  not  a  per- 
secutor, 331 — His  death,  332. 


A  Priest-ridden  Kingdom        ....  333-341 

Growing  power  of  the  Church,  333— Reign  of  Sisebut,  334 — 
Swinthila,  the  "  Father  of  the  Poor,"  335 — Usurpation  of  Sise- 
nanth,  337 — Reigns  of  Kindila  and  Tulga,  338 — Reign  of 
Kindaswinth  ;  the  clergy  find  a  master,  339 — Reign  of  Rec- 
ceswinth  ;  twenty-three  years  of  peace,  340. 

The  Story  of  Wamba       .....  342-349 

Election  of  Wamba,  342 — Revolt  of  Gothic  Gaul,  343— 
Treachery  of  Paul,  344 — Wamba  subdues  the  rebels,  348— A 
strange  ending,  349. 

Thirty  Years  of  Decay  .....  350-357 

The  origin  of  King  Erwig,  350 — Archbishop  Julian,  351  — 
Persecution  of  the  Jews,  352 — Accession  of  Egica,  353— Jewish 
conspiracies,  355— Reign  of  Witica,  356. 


The  Fall  of  the  Visigoths    ....  358-361 

King  Rod  eric's  story  a  romance,  358 — The  story  as  told  by 
late  chroniclers,  359— Battle  of  the  Guadalete,  360— The 
Moors  overrun  Spain,  361. 

C0.\  TENTS, 



•  362-365 

The  Gothic  element  in  the  Spanish  nation,  362 — Goths  in  the 
Crimea,  363 — Last  traces  of  the  Gothic  language,  364 — A 
vanished  nation,  365. 


Gothic  Personal  Names. 


•  367-370 














CHURCH      OF      SAN      APOLLINARE      IN      CLASSE,      NEAR 
RAVENNA       .  .  .  .  . 
















COINS   OF   THEODAHAD       ....                       .           .  2I9 


COIN    WITH    MONOGRAM    OF   MATASWINTHA      .           .           .  233 



COINS   STRUCK   AT   RAVENNA     ......  275 



COINS   OF  TOTILA        .                      296 


COIN   OF   ERMENEGILD        .......  3-3 




COIN   OF  RECCESWINTH     .           .           .           .         ".           .  34^ 

THE  AMPHITHEATRE  AT  NIMES,       ...  34^ 



More  than  three  hundred  years  before  the  birth  of 
Christ,  a  traveller  from  the  Greek  colony  of  Marseilles, 
named  Pytheas,  made  known  to  the  civilized  world 
the  existence  of  a  people  called  Guttones,  who  lived 
near  the  Frische  Haff,  in  the  country  since  known  as 
East  Prussia,  and  traded  in  the  amber  that  was 
gathered  on  the  Baltic  shores.^  For  four  whole 
centuries  these  amber  merchants  of  the  Baltic  are 
heard  of  no  more.  The  elder  Pliny,  a  Roman  writer 
who  died  in  the  year  79  after  Christ,  tells  us  that  in 
his  time  they  were  still  dwelling  in  the  same  neigh- 
bourhood ;  and  a  generation  later,  Tacitus,  the  greatest 
of  Roman  historians,  twice  mentions  their  name,  though 

^  This  first  sentence  of  our  story  contains  a  statement  that  has  been 
questioned.  A  great  German  scholar,  Karl  Miillenhoff,  maintains  that 
the  word  Guttones,  in  Pliny's  quotations  from  Pytheas,  is  a  misreading, 
and  that  the  people  whom  the  ancient  traveller  spoke  of  were  the 
Tcutones  dwelling  nea  the  mouth  of  the  Elbe.  But  we  do  not  think 
the  conjecture  is  well-founded. 

2  WHO    WERE   THE   GOTHS  ? 

he  Spells  it  rather  differently  as  Gotones.  In  his 
little  book  on  Germany,  he  says — in  that  brief  pointed 
style  of  his  which  it  is  so  difficult  to  translate  into 
English  — "  Beyond  the  Lygians  live  the  Gotones 
among  whom  the  power  of  the  kings  has  already 
become  greater  than  among  the  other  Germans, 
though  it  is  not  yet  too  great  for  them  to  be  a  free 
people."  And  in  his  Annals  he  mentions  that  they 
gave  shelter  to  a  prince  belonging  to  another  German 
nation,  who  had  been  driven  from  his  own  country  by 
the  oppression  of  a  foreign  conqueror.  These  two 
brief  notices  are  all  that  Tacitus,  who  has  told  us  so 
much  that  is  interesting  about  the  peoples  of  ancient 
Germany,  has  to  say  of  the  Gotones.  But  if  he 
could  only  have  guessed  what  was  the  destiny  in 
store  for  this  obscure  and  distant  tribe,  we  may  be 
sure  that  they  would  have  received  a  far  larger  share 
of  his  attention.  For  these  Gotones  were  the  same 
people  who  afterwards  became  so  famous  under  the 
name  of  Goths,  who,  a  few  centuries  later,  crowned 
their  kings  in  Rome  itself,  and  imposed  their  laws 
on  the  whole  of  Southern  Europe  from  the  Adriatic 
to  the  Western  sea. 

It  is  the  story  of  these  Goths  that  in  the  present 
volume  we  are  going  to  relate,  from  the  time  when 
they  were  still  living  almost  unnoticed  in  their 
northern  home  near  the  Baltic  and  the  Vistula,  down 
to  the  time  when  their  separate  history  becomes 
blended  in  the  history  of  the  southern  nations  whom 
they  conquered,  and  by  whom  they  were  at  last 
absorbed.  In  many  respects  the  career  of  this  people 
is  strikingly  different  from  that  of  any  other  nation 


of  equal  historic  renown.  For  three  hundred  years 
— beginning  with  the  days  of  Tacitus — their  history 
consists  of  Httle  else  than  a  dreary  record  of  barbarian 
slaughter  and  pillage.  A  century  later,  the  Goths 
have  become  the  mightiest  nation  in  Europe.  One 
of  their  two  kings  sits  on  the  throne  of  the  Caesars, 
the  wisest  and  most  beneficent  ruler  that  Italy  has 
known  for  ages  ;  the  other  reigns  over  Spain  and 
the  richest  part  of  Gaul.  We  look  forward  two 
hundred  and  fifty  years,  and  the  Gothic  kingdoms 
are  no  more  ;  the  nation  itself  has  vanished  from  the 
stage  of  history,  leaving  scarcely  a  trace  behind. 
The  story  we  have  to  tell  lacks  many  of  the  elements 
to  which  the  history  of  most  nations  owes  a  large 
part  of  its  interest.  Except  a  part  of  a  translation  . 
of  the  Bible,  the  Goths  have  left  us  no  literature  ;  the 
legends  which  they  told  about  the  deeds  of  gods  and 
heroes  have  nearly  all  perished ;  and  even  the  history 
of  their  short  period  of  greatness  has  to  be  learned 
from  ignorant  and  careless  writers,  who  have  left  un- 
told a  great  deal  that  we  would  gladly  know.  And 
yet  the  story  of  the  Goths  is  not  without  powerful 
attractions  of  its  own.  In  all  history  there  is  nothing  / 
more  romantically  marvellous  than  the  swift  rise  of 
this  people  to  the  height  of  greatness,  or  than  the 
suddenness  and  the  tragic  completeness  of  their  ruin. 
Amongst  the  actors  in  this  story  are  some  whose 
noble  characters  and  deeds  are  worthy  of  eternal 
remembrance  ;  and  the  events  which  it  records  have 
influenced  the  destinies  of  the  whole  civilized  world.  / 
And  while  for  an  Italian,  a  Frenchman,  or  a  Spaniard, 
Gothic  history  is  important  as  a  part  of  the  history 

4  WHO    WERE    THE   GOTHS  ? 

of  his  own  country,  for  us  who  speak  the  Enghsh 
tongue  it  has  a  special  interest  of  another  kind,  be- 
cause the  Goths  were  in  a  certain  sense  our  own  near 
kindred.  It  is  true  that  we  are  a  people  of  mingled 
origin  ;  but  we  are  to  no  small  extent  descendants 
of  the  Teutonic  race,  from  which  we  have  inherited  our 
language,  and  to  this  race  the  Goths  also  belonged. 
The  Gothic  language,  as  it  is  known  to  us  from  Bishop 
Wulfila's  translation  of  the  Bible,  is  very  much  like 
the  old-est  English,  though  it  is  still  more  like  the 
language  that  was  spoken  by  the  ancestors  of  the 
Swedes  and  Norwegians.  There  is  little  doubt  that 
in  the  first  century  all  the  Teutonic  peoples  could  un- 
derstand one  another's  speech,  though  even  then  there 
must  ha\^  been  among  them  some  differences  of 
dialect,  which  grew  wider  as  time  went  on.  Now 
since  the  Gothic  Bible  is  some  hundreds  of  years 
older  than  any  book  in  any  of  the  sister  dialects,  it  is 
the  most  important  help  we  possess  towards  finding 
out  what  the  old  Teutonic  speech  was  like  before  it 
was  developed  into  the  different  languages  which  we 
call  English,  German,  Dutch,  Swedish,  and  Danish. 
And  so  it  comes  about  that  scholars,  who  inquire 
into  the  origin  of  English  words  and  the  reasons  for 
the  rules  of  English  grammar,  find  that  they  can  obtain 
a  great  deal  of  light  from  the  study  of  the  long-dead 
Gothic  tongue. 

Besides  the  Gothic  Bible  there  have  been  preserved 
two  or  three  other  short  pieces  of  writing  in  the 
Gothic  language.  One  of  these — a  fragment  of  a 
calendar — contains  the  word  Gut-thiuda,  "  people  of 
the  Goths."     The  word  tJiiuda  is  the  same  as  the  Old- 


English  f/ieod,  meaning  people  ;  and  from  the  com- 
pound Gut-thiuda,  and  from  other  evidence,  it  may 
be  inferred  that  the  name  which,  following  the 
Romans,  we  spell  as  "  Goths  "  was  properly  Gutans — 
in  the  singular  Guta.^  Like  all  other  names  of  nations, 
this  word  must  originally  have  had  a  meaning,  but  it 
is  very  difficult  to  discover  what  that  meaning  was. 
It  has  often  been  asserted  that  the  name  of  the 
Goths  has  something  to  do  with  the  word  God  (in 
Gothic  guth).  We  might  easily  believe  that  an 
ancient  people  might  have  chosen  to  call  themselves 
"  the  worshippers  of  the  Gods  ;  "  but  although  this  in- 
teresting suggestion  was  proposed  by  Jacob  Grimm, 
one  of  the  greatest  scholars  who  ever  lived,  it  is  now 
quite  certain  that  it  was  a  mistake.  It  seems  now  to 
be  generally  thought  that  the  meaning  of  Gutans  is 
"  the  (nobly)  born." 

About  the  year  200,  when  they  were  living  on  the 
north  shore  of  the  Black  Sea,  the  Gutans  or  Goths 
divided  themselves  into  two  great  branches,  the 
Thervings  and  the  Greutungs.  These  two  peoples 
had  also  other  names,  which  are  much  better  known 
in  history.  The  Thervings  were  called  Visigoths  (?>., 
West  Goths),  and  the  Greutungs  Ostrogoths  (East 
Goths).  These  latter  names  referred  at  first  to  the 
situation  which  the  two  divisions  then  occupied,  one 
east,  the  other  west  of  the  river  Dniester ;  but  by  a 
curious  coincidence  they  continued  to  be  appropriate 
down  to  the  latest  days  of  Gothic  history,  for  when 

^  In  strictness,  Gut-thiuda  is  derived  from  an  earlier  form,  Gutos 
(singular  Guts),  but  in  historic  times  this  form  was  probably  used  only 
in  compounds. 


the  Goths  conquered  the  South  of  Europe,  the  Visi- 
gpths  went  westwards  to  Gaul  and  Spain,  while  the 
Ostrogoths  settled  in  Italy.  Probably  the  Thervings 
and  Greutungs  were  the  only  people  to  whom  the 
name  of  Goths  in  strictness  belonged.  There  was, 
however,  a  third  tribe,  the  Gepids,  whom  the  other 
two  recognized  as  being,  if  not  exactly  Goths,  at  any 
rate,  their  nearest  kinsfolk,  and  as  having  originally 
formed  one  nation  with  them.  About  the  origin  of 
these  Gepids,  the  Gothic  historian,  Jordanes  (who 
lived  in  the  sixth  century,  and  was,  perhaps,  bishop 
of  Crotona  in  Italy)  tells  a  curious  story,  founded,  it 
seems,  on  ancient  popular  songs.  He  relates  that  the 
original  home  of  the  Goths  was  in  "  the  island  of 
Scanzia  " — that  is  to  say,  in  the  Scandinavian  penin- 
sula ;  and  that  they  came  to  the  mainland  of  Europe 
in  three  ships,  under  the  command  of  a  king  named 
Berig.  One  of  the  ships  was  a  heavy  sailer,  and 
arrived  long  after  the  others  ;  and  for  this  reason  the 
people  who  came  over  in  her  were  called  Gepids,  from 
a  Gothic  word  gepanta,  meaning  slow.  Of  course 
this  is  not  the  real  explanation  of  the  name  of  the 
Gepids,  but  the  story  must  be  regarded  as  an  ancient 
Gothic  joke  at  their  expense.  Jordanes  says  that  the 
Gepids  were  a  dull-witted  and  heavy-bodied  nation  ; 
and  as  a  matter  of  fact  we  generally  find  them  lagging 
a  little  behind  the  Goths  in  their  southward  march. 

Whether  the  Goths  did  originally  come  from  Scan- 
dinavia is  a  question  that  has  been  much  disputed. 
The  traditions  of  a  people  contained  in  its  songs  are 
not  to  be  lightly  put  aside,  and  there  is  no  reason  to 
doubt  that  the  Goths  once  inhabited  the  northern  as 

8  WHO    WERE   THE   GOTHS  ? 

well  as  the  southern  shores  of  the  Baltic.  But  it  can- 
not be  said  that  apart  from  tradition  there  is  any  real 
evidence  of  the  fact.  It  is  true  that  the  southern  pro- 
vince of  Sweden  is  still  called  Gothland  ;  but  the 
Gautar  (called  Geatas  by  the  Anglo-Saxons),  from 
whom  this  province  took  its  name,  were  not  identical 
with  the  Goths,  though  doubtless  nearly  related  to 
them.  On  the  other  hand,  the  island  called  Gothland, 
in  the  Baltic,  was  anciently  called  Gutaland,  which 
seems  to  show  that  its  early  inhabitants  were  really  in 
the  strict  sense  Goths.  And  according  to  the  Norse 
sagas  and  the  Anglo-Saxon  poets,  the  peninsula  of 
Jutland  was  anciently  occupied  by  a  branch  of  the 
Gothic  people,  who  were  known  as  Hreth-gotan,  or 

There  were  also  a  number  of  smaller  tribes,  such  as 
the  Herules,  Scirians,  Rugians,  and  Turcilings,  who 
accompanied  the  Goths  as  subjects  or  as  allies  in 
their  southward  march,  and  who  seem  to  have  been 
more  closely  akin  to  them  than  any  other  of  the  great 
divisions  of  the  Teutonic  race.  The  great  nation  of 
the  Vandals,  moreover,  originally  the  neighbours  of 
the  Goths  on  the  west,  who  about  the  same  time  as 
they  did,  though  by  a  different  path,  wandered  from 
the  Baltic  to  the  Danube,  and  afterwards  played  an  im- 
portant part  in  history,  are  said  by  Roman  writers  to 
have  been  identical  with  the  Goths  in  language,  laws, 
and  manners.  The  Romans  naturally  often  confounded 
the  two  peoples  together,  and  not  unfrequently  they 
applied  the  name  of  Goths  in  a  loose  sense  to  all 
those  Teutonic  nations  who  invaded  the  southern 
lands.     In  this  volume,  however,  we  are  concerned 


only  with  the  fortunes  of  the  Visigoths  and  Ostro- 
goths, and  shall  only  mention  these  other  peoples 
when  they  come  in  our  way. 

The  Goths  are  always  described  as  tall  and  athletic 
men,  with  fair  complexions,  blue  eyes,  and  yellow 
hair — such  people,  in  fact,  as  may  be  seen  more  fre- 
quently in  Sweden  than  in  any  other  modern  land. 
A  very  good  idea  of  their  national  costume  and  their 
general  appearance  may  be  gained  from  the  sculptures 
on  "  The  Storied  Column,"  as  it  is  called,  erected  at 
Constantinople  by  the  Emperor  Arcadius  in  honour 
of  his  father  Theodosius,  which  represent  a  triumphal 
procession,  including  many  Gothic  captives.^  The 
dress  of  the  men  consists  usually  of  a  short  tunic  with 
girdle,  wide  turned-down  collars,  and  short  sleeves  ; 
an  inner  garment  coming  down  to  the  knees  ;  and 
trousers,  sometimes  reaching  to  the  ankle,  and  some- 
times ending  just  below  the  knees.  The  last  men- 
tioned article  of  dress  is  often  referred  to  as  distin- 
guishing the  Goths  from  the  bare-legged  Romans. 
A  king  or  chief,  who  sits  with  two  attendants  on  a 
car  drawn  by  oxen,  is  similar  in  his  attire  to  the  rest 
of  the  captives,  but  his  superior  rank  is  denoted  by 
the  collar  and  skirt  of  his  tunic  being  cut  into  an 
ornamental  pattern.  All  the  men  wear  long  curly 
hair  and  long  beards.  Some  of  them  are  bareheaded, 
while  others  wear  caps  of  somewhat  fantastic  shapes. 
Some  of  the  Gothic  figures  in  the  procession  seem  not 
to  be  prisoners  of  war,  but  auxiliaries  in  the  Roman 

^  This  column  was  destroyed  two  hundred  years  ago,  but  careful 
drawings  of  the  sculptures  are  contained  in  Banduri's  "  Imperium 


service,  as  they  appear  without  any  marks  of  humilia- 
tion, and  several  of  them  carry  Roman  armour.  Their 
leaders  are  on  horseback,  and  are  dressed  in  a  style 
similar  to  that  of  their  captive  countrymen,  with  the 
addition  of  long  fur  cloaks — a  garment  which  was 
proverbially  characteristic  of  their  people.  The  female 
captives  appear  clad  in  long  robes  down  to  the  feet ; 
some  have  their  heads  covered  with  kerchiefs,  while 
others  are  bareheaded,  with  long  streaming  hair.  We 
may  safely  rely  on  the  general  accuracy  of  this  in- 
teresting portraiture,  for  at  the  end  of  the  fourth  cen- 
tury the  appearance  of  the  Goths  had  become  familiar 
to  all  the  inhabitants  of  Constantinople. 

That  the  Gothic  people  had  many  noble  qualities 
was  frequently  acknowledged  even  by  their  enemies, 
and  is  abundantly  proved  by  many  incidents  in  their 
history.  They  were  brave,  generous,  patient  under 
hardship  and  privation,  and  chaste  and  affectionate  in 
their  family  relations.  The  one  great  reproach  which 
the  Roman  writers  bring  against  them  is  that  of  faith- 
lessness to  their  treaties,  a  charge  frequently  made  by 
civilized  peoples  against  barbarians,  and  one  which 
the  barbarians  have  too  often  had  good  .reason  to 
retort.  In  the  first  flush  of  victory  they  were  some- 
times terribly  cruel ;  but  on  the  whole  there  is  nothing 
in  their  history  more  remarkable  than  the  humanity 
and  justice  which  they  exercised  towards  the  nations 
whom  they  had  conquered  ;  and  there  are  many 
instances  on  record  in  which  Romans  were  glad  to 
seek  under  the  milder  sway  of  the  Goths  a  refuge  from 
the  oppressions  of  their  own  rulers.  It  is  true,  how- 
ever,  that  their  history  gives   but  little  evidence   of 

13  WHO    WERE   THE   GOTHS  ? 

their  possession  of  the  gentler  virtues  until  after  their 
conversion  to  Christianity — an  event  which  had  un- 
questionably a  very  profound  effect  on  their  national 
character.  The  Roman  clergy,  by  whom  the  Goths 
were  disliked  both  as  alien  conquerors  and  as  heretics, 
were  often  constrained  to  own  that  these  barbarians 
obeyed  the  precepts  of  the  gospel  far  better  than  did 
their  own  countrymen. 

We  have  no  contemporary  description  of  the  state 
of  society  which  existed  amongst  the  Goths  when 
they  were  living  in  their  ancient  abodes  near  the 
Baltic  ;  but  it  was  probably  in  its  main  features 
similar  to  that  of  the  other  Teutonic  peoples  as 
described  by  Tacitus.  By  combining  the  information 
supplied  by  Tacitus  with  what  we  know  of  the  manners 
and  institutions  of  the  Goths  in  later  days,  it  is 
possible  to  arrive  at  some  general  conclusions  respect- 
ing their  mode  of  life  before  their  southward  wander- 
ings began.  We  must  imagine  them  as  dwelling,  not 
in  cities  or  compact  villages,  but  in  habitations  scat- 
tered over  the  woods  and  plains,  each  with  its  own 
enclosure  of  farm  land,  which  they  cultivated  with 
the  help  of  slaves,  the  descendants  of  captives  taken 
in  war.  Their  chief  subsistence,  however,  was  not 
derived  from  their  crops,  but  from  their  vast  herds  of 
cattle,  which  they  pastured  on  their  wide  common 
lands.  Their  drink  was  mead  and  beer,  in  which,  no 
doubt,  like  the  other  Teutonic  peoples,  they  often 
indulged  to  excess.  At  their  feasts  they  entertained 
themselves  with  songs  relating  the  deeds  of  famous 
heroes  of  the  past.  At  the  season  of  new  moon  the 
men  of  each  district  assembled    in  the   open    air  to 


administer  justice  and  to  make  laws  for  themselves  ; 
and  from  time  to  time  the  whole  nation  was  gathered 
together  to  discuss  great  questions  such  as  those  of 
war  or  peace.  The  kings  were  chosen  by  the  voice  of 
the  assembled  people  from  certain  great  families,  two 
of  which,  the  Amalings  and  the  Balthings,  are  known/ 
to  us  by  name.  The  Amalings  were  said  to  be 
descended  from  a  hero  whose  deeds  had  earned  for 
him  the  title  of  Amala,  "  the  mighty  "  ;  the  name  of 
the  Balthings  is  derived  from  the  same  root  as  our 
English  word  "  bold."  Of  these  two  noble  houses  we 
shall  hereafter  have  much  to  say,  for  the  Amalings 
became  the  royal  line  of  the  Ostrogoths,  while  the 
Visigoths  chose  their  kings  from  the  Balthings. 

Of  the  religion  of  the  Goths  in  their  heathen  days 
we  know  but  little.  Their  native  historian  tells 
us  that  they  worshipped  certain  beings  called  Anses, 
and  this  word  is  plainly  the  same  as  ^sir  (plural  of 
Ass  or  Ans),  the  name  which  the  Scandinavians 
applied  to  the  greater  gods  of  their  mythology.  No 
ancient  writer  has  mentioned  the  name  of  a  single 
Gothic  deity,  but  there  is  reason  to  believe  that 
amongst  their  chief  gods  were  "  the  Great  Twin 
Brethren,"  corresponding  to  Castor  and  Pollux,  and 
we  may  feel  sure  that,  like  all  their  Teutonic  kindred, 
they  worshipped  Wodan,  the  spirit  of  wind  and  storm, 
the  inspirer  of  poetry  and  wisdom.  Another  of  their 
gods,  no  doubt,  was  Tiw,  whose  name  shows  that  he 
was  once  the  same  with  Dyaus,  Zeus,  Jupiter,  the 
ancient  sky-god  of  the  Indians,  Greeks,  and  Romans, 
and  whom  the  Teutonic  warriors  invoked  as  their  god 
of  battles.     Probably,  also,  they  worshipped — under 


l-H  -Si 

O    ^ 



what  names  wc  know  not — the  Sun-god  and  the 
Thunder-god,  whom  the  Scandinavians  called  Baldr 
and  Thorr.  And  there  is  proof  that  Halya,  which  in 
the  Gothic  Bible  is  the  word  for  "hell,"  must  originally 
have  been  the  name  of  the  goddess  of  the  lower  world. 
But  which  of  these  divinities  were  regarded  as  higher 
than  the  rest,  and  what  other  gods  and  goddesses 
were  reverenced  besides  them,  are  questions  that 
cannot  be  answered.  Images  of  the  gods  (not  com- 
plete statues,  but  pillars  surmounted  with  the  likeness 
of  a  human  head),  raised  aloft  on  chariots,  were  carried 
from  place  to  place  to  receive  the  adoration  of  the 
people.  The  sodden  flesh  of  animals  was  offered  in 
sacrifice,  and  sometimes  we  read  that  human  victims 
were  laid  upon  the  altars,  but  whether  this  is  fact  or 
fable  we  cannot  tell.  The  Gothic  temples  were  served 
both  by  male  and  female  priests,  and  during  the  war- 
like journeyings  of  the  nation  the  place  of  a  temple 
was  supplied  by  a  sacred  tent.  These  few  particulars 
are  all  that  we  really  know  about  Gothic  heathendom, 
for  when  the  people  became  Christians  their  clergy 
strove  to  blot  out  the  recollections  of  their  old  beliefs, 
and  in  this  endeavour  they  succeeded  only  too  well. 

One  more  fact,  and  that  a  very  interesting  one,  is 
known  respecting  the  early  condition  of  the  Goths. 
They  possessed  an  alphabet  of  their  own,  the  letters 
of  which  were  called  "  runes."  We  cannot  suppose, 
however,  that  they  had  any  extensive  written  litera- 
ture, for  they  seem  in  their  heathen  days  to  have  used 
no  more  convenient  writing  material  than  boards  and 
wooden  staves,  on  which  their  inscriptions  were  carved. 
It  is  not  likely  that  the  great  bulk  of  the  people  knew 

1 6  WHO    WERE    THE   GOTHS  ? 


how  to  read  and  write.  The  word  "  rune  "  h'terally 
means  a  secret  or  mystery,  and  that  shows  that  the 
art  of  writing;  was  looked  upon  with  superstitious 
awe  as  a  sort  of  half-miraculous  endowment.  Very 
likely  the  knowledge  of  it  was  kept  carefully  in  the 
hands  of  the  priesthood,  or  some  learned  caste.  The 
Goths  used  their  runes  for  inscribing  the  names  of 
their  dead  heroes  on  their  tombstones,  and  for  mark- 
ing their  swords  and  jewels  with  the  owner's  name. 
Their  wise  men  wrote  witchcraft  spells  to  hang  up  in 
the  people's  houses  to  drive  away  bad  spirits  or  to 
bring  good  luck.  Sometimes,  perhaps,  a  new  law 
micrht  be  carved  in  wood  or  stone  to  be  handed  down 
to  later  ages  ;  letters  (very  short  and  pithy  we  may 
be  sure  they  would  be)  might  be  sent  from  one  chief 
to  another  about  matters  too  weighty  to  be  trusted  to 
word  of  mouth  ;  or  a  poet  might  now  and  then  call 
in  the  aid  of  the  rune-man  to  preserve  the  memory  of 
one  of  his  songs.  Perhaps  too  there  were  some  rude 
attempts  at  history  writing,  such  as  we  have  in  the  early 
part  of  the  Saxon  Chronicle — ^just  brief  memoranda  of 
events  put  down  at  the  time,  saying  that  "  such  a 
king  died  ;  So-and-so  was  made  king  ;  Goths  fought 
with  Gepids  ;  Gepids  were  beaten,  with  great  slaugh- 
ter :  this  or  that  chief  was  killed."  But  all  this  is 
only  guessing,  for  only  one  or  two  Gothic  inscriptions, 
and  those  very  short  ones,  have  been  preserved. 
From  the  Goths,  however,  the  Runic  alphabet  passed 
to  the  kindred  nations  dwelling  near  the  Baltic,  and 
it  is  found  on  hundreds  of  tombstones  and  memorial 
pillars  in  Scandinavia,  Iceland,  and  the  British  Isles. 
Two  of  the  characters,  p  and  p,  were  adopted  in  Old 


{Found  near  Bucharest.) 

l8  WHO    WERE    THE   GOTHS  ? 

English  to  express  the  sounds  of  ^/z  and  w,  for  which 
the  Roman  alphabet  supplied  no  proper  sign.  When 
people  write  /  instead  of  t/ie,  or  y  instead  of  t/tat 
(3ls  is  still  sometimes  done  in  England),  they  are  really 
using  one  of  the  "  runes  "  inherited  from  the  heathen 
Goths  who  lived  two  thousand  years  ago.  A  speci- 
men of  the  Gothic  runes  may  be  seen  in  the 
accompanying  engraving  of  a  gold  necklet  found  in 
1838  amid  the  ruins  of  a  heathen  temple  near  Bucha- 
rest, in  the  country  where  the  Goths  were  dwelling 
early  in  the  fourth  century.  The  inscription  has  been 
read  by  some  scholars  as  Gut-annoin  hailag,  "  sacred  to 
the  treasure  of  the  Goths."  ^ 

The  Goths  certainly  did  not  invent  these  letters 
for  themselves,  and  there  has  been  a  great  deal  of 
discussion  on  the  question  how  they  got  them.  If 
we  compare  the  oldest  runes  with  the  Latin  letters, 
or,  what  is  very  much  the  same  thing,  with  an  early 
form  of  the  Greek  letters,  we  see  at  once  that  several 
of  them  are  just  the  Latin  or  old  Greek  characters, 
altered  so  as  to  render  them  more  convenient  for 
cutting  on  wood.  It  is  usually  believed  amongst 
scholars  that  the  runes  are  of  Latin  origin  ;  but  as 
the  evidence  seems  to  show  that  they  were  first  used 
in  the  far  north-east,  where  Roman  influences  could 
hardly  have  reached,  we  prefer  to  accept  the  view  of 
Dr.  Isaac  Taylor,  that  they  are  a  corruption  of  an 
old  Greek  alphabet  used  in  certain  colonies  on  the 
north-west  coast  of  the  Black  Sea.  But  how  the 
knowledge  of  this  alphabet  was  carried  to  the  Goths 

*  In  recent  drawings  the  first  word  looks  like  gutaniowi,  which  has 
no  known  sense.     One  would  expect  to  find  the  name  of  a  god. 


dwelling  SIX  hundred  miles  away,  and  what  caused 
the  changes  in  the  sounds  expressed  by  some  of  the 
letters,  are  questions  we  have  no  means  of  answering. 

Before  we  leave  the  subject  of  this  chapter,  there  is 
one  more  point  that  must  be  touched  on,  because  it 
affects  our  understanding  of  some  parts  of  the  suc- 
ceeding history.  In  ancient  times  the  countries  north 
of  the  Danube  mouths  were  inhabited  by  a  people 
called  Getes  (in  Latin  Getae).  You  may  remember 
that  the  poet  Ovid  was  sent  to  live  among  this  people 
when  Augustus  banished  him  from  Rome.  Now  in 
the  third  century  after  Christ  the  Goths  came  and 
dwelt  in  the  land  of  the  Getes,  and  to  some  extent 
mingled  with  the  native  inhabitants  ;  and  so  the 
Romans  came  to  think  that  Goths  and  Getes  were 
only  two  names  for  the  same  people,  or  rather  two 
different  ways  of  pronouncing  the  same  word.  Even 
the  historian  Jordanes,  himself  a  Goth,  actually  calls 
his  book  a  Getic  history,  and  mixes  up  the  traditions 
of  his  own  people  with  the  tales  which  he  had  read 
in  books  about  the  Getes.  In  modern  times  some 
great  scholars  have  tried  to  prove  that  the  Getes 
really  were  Goths,  and  that  the  early  territory  of  the 
Gothic  nation  reached  all  the  way  from  the  Baltic  to 
the  Black  Sea.  But  the  ablest  authorities  are  now 
mostly  agreed  that  this  is  a  mistake,  and  that  when 
the  Goths  migrated  to  the  region  of  the  Danube  it 
was  to  settle  amongst  a  people  of  a  different  race, 
speaking  a  foreign  tongue. 

As  late  as  the  middle  of  the  second  century 
(unless,  as  is  not  unlikely,  the  geographer  Ptolemy 
copied  his  information  from  much  earlier  writers)  the 


WHO    WERE    THE   GOTHS  ? 

"  Gythones  "  or  Goths  were  still  dwelling  along  the 
eastern  bank  of  the  Vistula.  A  few  years  later  they 
began  their  great  southward  journey,  and  left  their 
ancient  homes  to  be  occupied  by  new  possessors,  the 
kinsmen  of  the  Slavonians  and  Lithuanians. 



The  emigration  of  a  settled  people  from  the 
country  which  it  has  occupied  for  hundreds  of  years, 
is  a  very  different  sort  of  thing  from  the  movements 
of  mere  wandering  hordes  like  the  Huns  or  the  Tar- 
tars. It  is  true  the  Goths  were  only  barbarians,  and 
the  ties  which  bound  them  to  their  native  soil  were 
far  less  complex  and  powerful  than  those  which  affect 
a  civilized  community  ;  and  no  doubt  they  had  often 
made  long  expeditions  for  plunder  or  conquest  into 
the  adjoining  lands.  But  still  we  may  be  sure  that 
the  resolution  to  forsake  their  ancient  homes,  and  to 
seek  a  settlement  in  unknown  and  distant  regions, 
must  have  cost  them  a  great  deal  of  anxious  delibe- 
ration, and  that  they  must  have  been  impelled  to  it 
by  very  powerful  motives.  What  these  motives  were 
we  can  only  faintly  guess.  It  can  scarcely  be  supposed 
that  the  Goths  were  driven  southward  by  the  invasion 
of  stronger  neighbours,  for  the  peoples  who  afterwards 
occupied  the  Baltic  shores  seem  to  have  been  cer- 
tainly their  inferiors  in  warlike  prowess.  Most  likely 
it  was  simply  the  natural  increase  of  their  population, 

Traditions  op  the  wandering.         23 

aided  perhaps  by  the  failure  of  their  harvests  or  the 
outbreak  of  a  pestilence,  that  made  them  sensible 
of  the  poverty  of  their  country,  and  led  them  to  cast 
longing  eyes  towards  the  richer  and  more  genial  lands 
further  to  the  south,  of  which  they  had  heard,  and 
which  some  of  them  may  have  visited. 

Our  only  information  about  the  path  along  which 
they  travelled  is  derived  from  their  own  traditions,  as 
recorded  by  Jordanes  in  the  sixth  century.  A  great 
deal  of  the  story  told  by  that  historian,  however, 
seems  to  be  either  his  own  guesswork,  or  to  be  taken 
from  the  history  of  the  Getes  and  Scythians.  Putting 
all  this  aside,  we  find  that  the  Goths,  Gepids,  Herules, 
and  some  other  kindred  peoples,  united  into  one  great 
body,  first  wandered  southward  through  what  is  now 
Western  Russia,'  till  they  came  to  the  shores  of  the 
Black  Sea  and  the  Sea  of  Azov,  and  then  spread 
themselves  westward  to  the  north  bank  of  the 
Danube.  As  they  went  their  numbers  were  in- 
creased by  the  accession  of  people  of  Slavonic  race, 
whom  they  conquered,  or  who  joined  them  of  their 
own  accord.  One  of  the  nations  whom  they  over- 
came, the  Spali,  is  mentioned  by  name.  About  these 
early  wanderings  Jordanes  tells  two  legendary  stories, 
evidently  derived  from  Gothic  popular  ballads.  One 
of  these  relates  that  the  Goths,  led  by  their  king, 
Filimer,  the  son  of  Guntharic,  had  to  cross  a  great 
river  into  a  beautiful  and  fertile  country,  called  Ovim 
or  Ocum.  When  the  king  and  most  of  the  people 
had  passed  over  in  safety,  the  bridge  broke  down  and 
part  of  the  host  was  left  behind  in  a  sort  of  enchanted 
land,  surrounded  by  a  belt  of  marshes  through  which 


no  traveller  had  since  been  able  to  find  his  way  ;  but 
those  who  passed  near  its  borders  ages  afterward  could 
often  hear  the  lowing  of  cattle  and  the  distant  sound 
of  Gothic  speech.  The  other  story  embodies  the 
hatred  felt  by  the  Goths  for  their  enemies  the  Huns. 
King  Filimer,  it  was  said,  expelled  from  the  camp  the 
women  who  practised  magic  arts — the  Halirunos,  as 
they  were  called,  that  is  to  say,  the  possessors  of  the 
"rune"  or  secret  of  Halya,  the  goddess  of  the  lower 
'  world.  Banished  into  the  deserts,  these  women  met 
with  the  evil  spirits  of  the  waste,  and  from  the  unholy 
marriage  of  witches  and  demons  sprang  the  loath- 
some savages  whom  the  Goths  had  afterwards  so 
much  reason  to  dread. 

The  real  history  of  the  Goths  begins  about  the 
year  245,  when  they  were  living  near  the  mouths  of  the 
Danube  under  the  rule  of  Ostrogotha  [Austraguta], 
the  first  king  of  the  Amaling  stock.  Ostrogotha  was 
celebrated  in  tradition  for  his  "  patience  "  ;  but  in  what 
way  he  displayed  that  virtue  we  are  not  informed,  for 
history  tells  only  of  his  victories.  Whether  on  ac- 
count of  his  patience  or  his  deeds  in  war,  his  fame 
was  widely  spread,  for  one  of  the  oldest  of  Ango- 
Saxon  poems  mentions  him  as  *'  Eastgota,  the  father 
of  Unwen."  The  name  of  this  son  is  given  by  Jordanes 
as  Hunuil,  but  probably  the  Anglo-Saxon  form  is 
the  right  one. 

There  is  evidence  that  about  twenty  years  before 
this  time  the  Goths  had  become  allies  of  the  Romans, 
who  paid  them  a  yearly  sum  of  money  to  defend  the 
border  of  the  empire  against  the  Sarmatian  barbarians 
who  lay  behind  them.    But  in  the  reign  of  the  Roman 

26  FROM    THE   BALTIC    TO    THE   DANUBE, 

emperor  Philip  the  Arab,  this  payment  was  stopped, 
and  King  Ostrogotha  crossed  the  Danube  and  plun- 
dered the  Roman  provinces  of  Moesia  and  Thrace. 
The  Roman  general  Decius,  who  afterwards  became 
emperor  brought  an  army  against  them  ;  but  the 
Goths  retreated  safely  across  the  Danube,  and  it  is 
said  that  large  numbers  of  the  Roman  soldiers  de- 
serted to  the  barbarians,  and  offered  to  help  them  to 
make  another  attack.  The  Gothic  king  collected  an 
army  of  thirty  thousand  men,  partly  belonging  to  his 
own  people  and  partly  to  other  barbarian  nations,  and 
sent  them  over  the  river  under  the  command  of  two 
generals,  named  Argait  and  Guntharic,  who  ravaged 
the  province  called  Lower  Moesia,  and  laid  siege  to 
its  capital,  a  city  which  the  great  emperor  Trajan  had 
built,  and  named  Marcianopolis  in  honour  of  his 
sister  Marcia.  The  inhabitants  were  glad  to  bargain 
with  the  Goths  to  raise  the  siege  on  receiving  a  heavy 
payment  in  money,  and  then  the  barbarians  went 
back  into  their  own  land. 

After  this  the  kingdom  of  Ostrogotha  was  attacked 
by  the  Gepids,  who  had  separated  themselves  from  the 
Goths,  and  under  their  king,  Fastida,  had  conquered 
the  Burgunds,  another  Teutonic  people.  They  now 
demanded  that  Ostrogotha  should  give  them  a  por- 
tion of  his  territory.  The  "  patient "  king  tried  hard 
to  persuade  them  not  to  make  war  on  their  own 
brethren  ;  but  he  was  not  patient  enough  to  grant 
what  they  required,  and  the  two  nations  met  in  con- 
flict near  a  town  called  Galtis.  The  fight  was  long 
and  terrible  ;  "  but  at  last,"  says  Jordanes,  sneering 
at  the  "  sluggish  "  Gepids,  "  the  more  vigorous  nature 

KING   CNIVA.  27 

of  the  Goths   prevailed,"   and  Fastida  had  to   retire 
within  his  own  dominions. 

Ostrogotha  died  about  the  year  250,  and  was  suc- 
ceeded, not  by  his  son  Unwen  or  Hunuil  (who,  how- 
ever, became  the  ancestor  of  later  Gothic  kings),  but 
by  a  King  Cniva,  who  was  not  an  Amaling  at  all. 
The  new  chief  at  once  engaged  in  an  expedition 
across  the  Danube  into  Moesia  and  Thrace.  He  sent 
out  several  bodies  of  his  army  to  plunder  different 
parts  of  the  country,  while  he  himself  besieged  the 
town  of  Nicopolis  (now  Nikopi  on  the  Yantra), 
whose  name,  "  City  of  Victory,"  preserved  the  memory 
of  a  battle  in  which  Trajan  had  been  successful 
against  the  barbarians.  The  emperor  Decius,  who 
had  been  elected  by  the  army  a  year  before,  was  a 
man  of  great  energy  and  of  noble  character,  and  he 
at  once  hurried  off  to  relieve  the  town.  When  the 
Goths  heard  that  the  Roman  army  was  approaching, 
they  abandoned  the  siege,  and  made  their  way 
through  the  passes  of  the  Balkan  mountains  to  attack 
the  great  city  of  Philippopolis.  Decius  followed  them 
in  haste,  but  the  Goths  unexpectedly  turned  on  their 
pursuers,  put  them  to  flight,  and  plundered  their 
camp.  The  barbarians  were  now  able  to  carry  on 
the.siege  of  Philippopolis  undisturbed.  The  inhabi- 
tants made  a  brave  defence,  and  slew  many  thousands 
of  their  assailants.  But  at  last  they  were  obliged 
to  yield  ;  the  town  was  taken,  and  it  is  said  that  a 
hundred  thousand  persons  were  massacred.  A  vast 
quantity  of  plunder  fell  into  the  hands  of  the  Goths, 
besides  many  prisoners  of  noble  rank.  Amongst 
these   was    Priscus,  a  brother    of  the    late   emperor 


Philip,  whom  the  Goths  persuaded  to  assume  the  title 
of  emperor,  and  to  conclude  a  treaty  of  peace  with 

Meanwhile  the  emperor  had  not  been  idle.  He 
rallied  his  scattered  forces,  and  placed  garrisons  along 
the  Danube  and  at  the  passes  of  the  Balkans.  The 
Goths  felt  how  much  they  had  been  weakened  by 
their  losses  in  the  long  siege,  and  sent  messages  to 
the  Romans,  entreating  that  they  might  be  allowed 
to  return  home  in  safety  on  giving  up  their  plunder 
and  their  prisoners.  But  Decius  thought  he  had  the 
victory  in  his  own  hands,  and  demanded  that  they 
should  submit  without  conditions.  The  Goths  deter- 
mined to  fight  for  their  freedom.  The  two  armies 
encountered  each  other  near  a  little  town  of  Moesia, 
which  the  barbarians  called  Abritta,  and  the  Romans, 
Forum  Trebonii.  Scarcely  had  the  battle  begun 
when  Decius's  eldest  son,  Herennius,  whom  he  had 
made  joint  emperor,  fell  wounded  by  an  arrow.  A 
crowd  of  barbarians  rushed  upon  him,  and  plunged 
their  spears  into  his  body.  When  the  soldiers  saw 
their  young  commander  slain,  their  courage  at  first 
gave  way.  The  bereaved  father  urged  them  on  with 
the  words  :  "  The  loss  of  one  soldier  makes  little  dif- 
ference to  the  commonwealth."  Then,  overwhelmed 
with  grief,  he  rushed  into  the  thick  of  the  conflict,  re- 
solved either  to  avenge  his  son  or  to  share  his  fate. 
The  fisrht  was  fierce  and  bloodv.  Two  divisions  of 
the  Goths  were  routed  ;  the  third  line,  protected  by  a 
morass,  awaited  the  attack  of  the  Romans,  who,  un- 
acquainted with  the  ground  and  burdened  with  their 
heavy  armour,  were  utterly  defeated.     The  emperor 


was  killed,  and  his  body  was  never  found.  Never  before 
had  the  Roman  Empire  known  so  sad  a  day  as  this, 
which  saw  the  ruin  of  a  great  army,  and  the  death  by 
barbarian  hands  of  one  of  the  worthiest  emperors  who 

ever  ruled. 

Broken  and  disorganized,  the  Roman  army  offered 
no  further  resistance  to  the  Goths,  who  carried  devas- 
tation over  the  provinces  of  Mcesia,  Thrace,  and 
Illyria.  The  new  emperor,  Trebonianus  Gallus, 
found  that  it  was  hopeless  to  try  to  drive  them  out 
by  force  of  arms,  and  he  agreed  to  leave  them  in 
possession  of  their  prisoners  and  their  booty,  and  to 
pay  them  a  large  sum  of  money  yearly  on  condition 
that  they  should  leave  the  Roman  territories  un- 



There  was  a  terrible  outcry  amongst  the  Romans 
when  it  became  known  that  the  emperor  Gallus  had 
agreed  to  bribe  the  Goths  to  keep  the  peace.  Every- 
body said  that  Gallus  was  a  traitor,  and  some  people 
even  accused  him  of  having  intentionally  caused  the 
ruin  of  Decius  by  his  bad  advice.  To  make  matters 
worse,  a  great  plague  broke  out  all  over  the  empire, 
caused,  the  Romans  fancied,  by  the  anger  of  the  gods 
at  the  treachery  of  their  emperor.  And  before  long 
it  turned  out  that  the  disgraceful  bargain  that  Gallus 
had  made  had  not  even  answered  its  purpose,  for  a 
portion  of  the  Goths,  faithless  to  their  engagements, 
continued  to  ravage  the  provinces  of  Illyria.  They 
were  defeated  by  a  general  named  ^milianus,  who 
assumed  the  title  of  emperor.  Gallus  was  murdered 
by  his  own  soldiers,  who  joined  the  army  of  the 
usurper  ;  but  soon  afterwards  he,  too,  was  assassi- 
nated, and  the  empire  came  into  the  hands  of  Valerian 
and  his  son  Gallienus. 

The  reigns  of  these  two  emperors,  which  ex- 
tended from  the  year  253  to  the  year  268,  were 
full   of  misfortunes    for   the    empire.      The  Germans 


threatened  it  on  the  west  ;  on  the  east  there 
were  troubles  with  Persia  ;  and  all  the  while  news 
kept  coming  from  the  provinces  that  one  portion 
or  another  of  the  army  had  rebelled,  and  set  up 
an  emperor  of  their  own.  To  grapple  with  these 
difficulties  needed  a  great  ruler  at  the  head  of  affairs. 
Valerian  was  a  brave  and  good  man,  but  he  foolishly 
went  on  an  expedition  against  Persia,  and  in  the  year 
260  was  taken  prisoner,  and  never  came  back.  When 
Gallienus  heard  that  his  father  was  a  captive,  he  took 
the  matter  very  coolly,  and  his  courtiers,  instead  of 
being  disgusted  with  his  heartlessness,  only  compli- 
mented him  on  his  "resignation."  He  was  not  a 
coward,  nor  was  he  either  cruel  or  vicious  ;  but  he 
cared  for  nothing  but  amusing  himself  When  he 
heard  of  any  great  misfortune  that  had  happened  in 
some  distant  province,  he  used  to  make  some  foolish 
joke  about  it,  and  then  went  on  writing  pretty  verses, 
or  completing  his  collections  of  pictures  and  statues. 
Such  w^as  the  sovereign  who  ruled  the  Roman  world 
at  a  time  when,  more  than  ever  in  its  past  history, 
the  manifold  perils  that  threatened  it  demanded  the 
energies  of  a  hero  and  a  statesman. 

During  these  dreary  fifteen  years  the  history  of  the 
Goths  is  a  frightful  story  of  cruel  massacres,  and  of 
the  destruction  and  plunder  of  wealthy  and  beautiful 
cities.  One  branch  of  the  people  obtained  possession 
of  the  Crimea,  sailed  across  the  Black  Sea,  and  took 
the  great  city  of  Trebizond,  from  which  they  carried 
away  an  abundance  of  spoil  and  a  vast  multitude  of 
captives.  A  second  expedition  resulted  in  the  capture 
of  the  splendid  cities  of  Chalcedon  and  Nicomedia, 


and  many  other  rich  towns  of  Bithynia.  The  cities 
were  strongly  fortified,  and  possessed  ample  garrisons, 
but  such  was  the  wild  terror  inspired  by  the  Goths 
that  resistance  was  hardly  ever  attempted.  It  is, 
however,  the  third  of  these  plundering  raids  that  is 
most  worthy  of  attention,  not  only  because  it  was 
conducted  on  a  larger  scale  than  the  two  previous  ones, 
but  because  of  the  interest  which  we  feel  in  the  classic 
lands  over  which  it  extended.  A  fleet  of  five  hundred 
vessels,  conveying  a  great  army  of  Goths  and  Herules, 
sailed  through  the  Bosphorus  arid  the  Hellespont.  On 
their  way  they  destroyed  the  island  city  of  Cyzicus, 
and  made  landings  at  many  points  on  the  west  coast 
of  Asia  Minor.  Amongst  other  deeds  of  wanton 
devastation,  they  burnt  the  magnificent  temple  of 
"  Diana  of  the  Ephesians,"  one  of  the  seven  wonders 
of  the  ancient  world,  with  its  hundred  lofty  marble 
columns  and  its  many  beautiful  statues,  the  work  of 
the  greatest  sculptors  of  Greece.  Then,  crossing  the 
^gean  Sea,  they  anchored  in  the  port  of  Athens  ; 
and  now  that  city,  which  had  given  birth  to  the  finest 
poetry,  philosophy,  and  art  that  the  world  had  ever 
known,  became  the  plunder  of  barbarian  pirates. 

Whatever  havoc  the  Goths  may  have  made  at 
Athens,  at  least  they  did  not  burn  the  city,  and  we 
know  that  they  left  many  noble  buildings  and  works 
of  art  to  be  destroyed  long  after  by  the  Turks. 
About  their  doings  here  we  have  only  one  anecdote. 
The  Goths,  it  is  said,  had  collected  into  a  great  heap 
all  the  Athenian  libraries,  and  were  going  to  set  fire 
to  the  pile,  dreading,  perhaps,  lest  the  magical  powers 
dwelling  in  the  foreign  "  runes  "  should  work  some 

^*  LET    THE   GREEKS   HAVE    THEIR   BOOKS.''      33 

mischief  on  the  invading  host.  But  there  was  among 
them  one  aged  chief,  famed  for  his  wisdom,  who 
persuaded  them  to  change  their  purpose.  "  Let  the 
Greeks  have  their  books,"  he  said,  "for  so  long  as 
they  spend  their  days  with  these  idle  toys  we  need 
never  fear  that  they  will  give  us  trouble  in  war." 
Although  this  story  rests  on  no  very  good  authority, 
there  is  no  reason  why  it  may  not  have  been  true. 
Perhaps  the  Goth  was  not  altogether  wrong.  A 
people  that  has  a  vigorous  national  life  gains  fresh 
strength  from  the  labours  of  its  scholars  and  thinkers ; 
but  when  a  nation  cares  for  nothing  but  books,  its 
absorption  in  literature  only  hastens  its  decay,  and 
the  literature  itself  becomes  pedantic  and  trifling, 
and  gives  birth  to  little  "that  the  world  would  not 
willingly  let  die."  So  it  was  amongst  the  Greeks 
of  the  third  century.  But  even  while  they  were 
in  Athens  the  Goths  were  taught  that  learning  did 
not  always  make  men  cowards.  For  an  Athenian 
named  Dexippus,  a  man  of  letters  whose  studies 
had  made  him  mindful  of  the  ancient  greatness  of 
his  country,  collected  a  band  of  brave  men  and 
burned  many  of  the  Gothic  ships  in  the  harbour  of 

But  there  were  not  many  Greeks  like  Dexippus, 
and  the  Goths  and  Herules  met  with  little  resistance 
as  they  ranged  over  the  land,  enriching  themselves 
with  the  spoils  of  many  a  wealthy  city,  once  great  in 
arts  and  in  war.  When  they  had  exhausted  the 
plunder  of  Greece  they  marched  to  the  Adriatic,  and 
it  seems  they  were  thinking  of  invading  Italy.  But 
the  emperor  Gallienus,  at   last  roused  from  his  in- 

34       FIRE   AND   SWORD   IN  ASIA    AND    GREECE, 

action,  came  to  meet  them  at  the  head  of  his  army. 
The  barbarian  chiefs  began  to  quarrel  amongst  them- 
selves, and  one  of  them,  Naulobatus,  with  a  large 
body  of  Herules,  deserted  his  countrymen,  and 
entered  the  Roman  service.  Naulobatus  was  gladly 
received  by  the  emperor,  who  bestowed  on  him  the 
rank  of  consul,  the  highest  honour  that  could  be 
gained  by  a  Roman  subject.  The  main  body  of  the 
Goths  separated  into  two  bands.  One  of  them  went 
back  to  the  east  coast  of  Greece,  and  there  took 
shipping,  and  after  landing  at  Anchialus  in  Thrace, 
got  back  in  safety  to  the  settlements  ^of  their  people 
at  the  north  of  the  Black  Sea.  The  other  band  made 
their  way  into  Mcesia,  and  continued  to  ravage  that 
country  for  a  year  with  impunity,  because  the  quarrels 
between  the  Roman  generals  rendered  any  effectual 
resistance  impossible. 

One  of  these  generals,  however,  was  a  brave  and 
able  man  named  Claudius,  and  when,  in  March,  268, 
Gallienus  died  by  an  assassin's  hand,  Claudius  was 
declared  emperor  in  his  stead.  He  at  once  set  to 
work  to  reorganize  the  Roman  armies,  and  to  clear 
the  empire  of  the  northern  barbarians.  His  task 
seemed,  indeed,  a  desperate  one,  for  he  had  to 
grapple  with  a  new  invasion,  more  terrible  than 
any  that  the  empire  had  hitherto  suffered.  The 
Goths  dwelling  near  the  mouths  of  the  Dniester, 
excited  by  the  tales  which  their  countrymen  had 
brought  them  about  the  wealth  and  fruitfulness  of 
the  southern  lands,  had  resolved  to  conquer  the 
Roman  Empire,  and  make  it  their  settled  home. 
They  were  joined  by  a  multitude  of  Slavonic  tribes, 


whom  they  had  either  subdued  or  had  persuaded  to 
enter  into  alliance  with  them.  Through  the  Black 
Sea  and  the  Hellespont  sailed  a  vast  fleet,  conveying 
an  army  numbering  three  hundred  thousand  warriors, 
accompanied  by  their  wives  and  children.  The  in- 
vaders landed  at  Thessalonica,  and  hearing  of  the 
approach  of  Claudius,  hastened  to  meet  him,  glorying 
in  the  hope  of  an  easy  victory.  The  battle  that  took 
place  at  Naissus  (now  Nissa,  in  the  middle  of  Turkey) 
was,  perhaps,  not  a  victory  for  Claudius  ;  some  writers 
say  he  was  beaten.  But  the  Goths  lost  fifty  thousand 
men  ;  and  what  was  more,  they  lost  their  confidence 
in  their  own  strength.  Battle  after  battle  succeeded, 
and  soon  the  mighty  host  of  the  invaders  was  utterly 
broken.  Thousands  of  Gothic  prisoners  were  sold 
into  slavery  ;  many  of  the  young  men  were  taken  to 
serve  in  the  imperial  armies ;  and  the  shattered 
remnant  of  the  people  fled  into  the  recesses  of  the 
Balkan  mountains,  where  their  numbers  were  lessened 
by  the  cold  of  winter  and  the  outbreak  of  a  dreadful 
plague.  In  this  plague,  however,  Claudius  himself 
died,  in  the  spring  of  the  year  270.  In  memory  of 
his  victories  the  Roman  people  gave  him  the  surname 
of  Gothicus  ;  and  his  name  ought  ever  to  be  held  in 
honour  as  that  of  one  of  the  few  great  conquerors 
whose  exploits  have  been  of  lasting  benefit  to  the 
human  race.  It  is  terrible  to  think  what  would  have 
been  the  consequences  to  the  world  if  the  Gothic 
enterprise  had  then  been  successful.  The  South  of 
Europe  would  have  been  depopulated  by  fierce  and 
lawless  massacre ;  the  masterpieces  of  ancient  art  and 
literature  would  have  perished,  and  the  traditions  of 

36        FIRE  AND   SWORD  IN  ASIA   AND   GREECE. 

many  ages  of  civilization  would  in  a  great  measure 
have  been  blotted  out.  It  is  true  that  by  the  victories 
of  Claudius  the  triumph  of  the  Goths  was  only  de- 
ferred. But  it  was  deferred  until  a  time  when  they 
had  become  Christian,  and  in  some  degree  civilized, 
and  when  they  had  learned  to  use  their  victories  with 
gentleness  and  wisdom.  When  they  came  to  subdue 
the  empire,  it  was  no  longer  as  savage  devastators, 
but  as  the  saviours  of  the  Roman  world  from  the 
degradation  into  which  it  had  sunk  through  the  vices 
of  a  corrupt  civilization,  and  through  the  misgovern- 
ment  of  its  feeble  and  depraved  rulers.  Although  a 
foreign  conquest  always  must  be  productive  of  some 
evil,  yet,  on  the  whole,  the  Gothic  rule  in  Italy,  while 
it  lasted,  was  such  a  blessing  to  the  subject  people 
that  we  may  well  feel  sorry  that  it  came  to  an  un- 
timely end. 

The  dying  emperor  recommended  as  his  successor 
Aurelian,  one  of  his  generals,  whom  the  soldiers  who 
served  under  him  knew  by  the  nickname  of  **  Your 
hands  to  your  swords!"  The  army  accepted  the 
choice,  and  Aurelian  ruled  the  empire  well  and  wisely 
for  five  years.  As  soon  as  the  new  emperor  had  been 
proclaimed  the  Goths  again  tried  their  fortune  in  war, 
under  a  chief  named  Cannabaudes.  The  battle  was 
indecisive,  and  the  Roman  losses  were  heavy,  but  the 
Goths  had  suffered  so  much  that  they  were  glad  to 
accept  an  offer  of  peace.  Aurelian,  hearing  that  he 
was  v/anted  to  repel  a  German  invasion  of  Italy, 
thought  it  wise  to  allow  them  favourable  terms. 
It  was  agreed  that  they  were  to  be  granted  a 
free  retreat  into  Dacia,  and  that  province,  including 


what  is  now  the  kingdom  of  Roumania  and  the 
eastern  part  of  Hungary,  was  abandoned  to  their 
sovereignty,  the  native  inhabitants  being  invited  to 
cross  the  Danube  into  Moesia.  In  return  for  these 
concessions  the  Goths  were  to  furnish  a  body  of  two 
thousand  horsemen  to  the  Roman  armies,  and  as 
security  for  their  faithfulness  a  number  of  the  sons 
and  daughters  of  Gothic  nobles  were  entrusted  to  the 
care  of  the  emperor,  who  caused  them  to  receive  the 
education  of  persons  of  rank,  and  afterwards  employed 
the  youths  in  honourable  offices  in  his  own  service,  and 
gave  the  maidens  in  marriage  to  some  of  his  principal 
officers.  The  result  of  these  measures  was  that  the 
Goths  lived  in  unbroken  alliance  with  the  Roman 
Empire  for  fifty  years,  learning  the  arts  cf  peace  from 
the  natives  of  Dacia,  and  gaining  new  strength  for  the 
time  when  they  were  again  to  distinguish  themselves 
by  deeds  of  arms. 



During  the  fifty  years'  peace  the  history  of  the 
Goths  is  a  blank.  No  chronicler  has  preserved  even 
the  name  of  any  of  their  kings,  or  a  single  anecdote, 
true  or  fabulous,  about  their  doings  in  that  tranquil 
time.  Probably  we  have  lost  little  by  this  silence  of 
the  historians  ;  for  the  story  of  an  uncivilized  people 
does  not  contain  much  that  is  worth  telling,  when 
there  are  no  battles  or  migrations  to  record.  We 
should  like  to  know,  however,  on  what  sort  of  terms 
the  Goths  lived  with  the  native  Dacians,  for  there  is 
good  evidence  that  the  whole  of  that  people  did  not 
avail  themselves  of  Aurelian's  invitation  to  emigrate 
into  Moesia,  but  continued  in  their  ancient  homes 
under  Gothic  rule.  There  is  some  reason  for  thinking 
that  they  were  not  reduced  to  slavery,  but  that  the 
Goths  learned  to  respect  the  superior  civilization  of 
their  neighbours,  and  that  the  native  inhabitants  and 
the  new  settlers  gradually  became  united  into  one 
people.  If  this  were  so,  we  can  understand  how  ijt 
came  to  pass  that,  as  we  have  already  seen,  the 
Gothic  historian  of  the  sixth  century  could  reckon 
the  heroes  and  sages  of  ancient  Dacia  among  the 
ancestral  glories  of  his  own  nation. 


But  we  must  not  suppose  that  Dacia  was  the  only 
country  occupied  at  this  time  by  the  Goths.  Vast  as 
were  the  numbers  of  the  host  that  sailed  from  the 
northern  shores  of  the  Black  Sea  in  the  year  269, 
a  large  Gothic  population  still  remained  behind. 
Whether  or  not .  the  Goths  of  Southern  Russia  were 
included  in  the  treaty  which  Aurelian  made,  they 
seem  at  any  rate  to  have  abstained  from  any  invasion 
of  the  Roman  Empire  throughout  the  fifty  years  of 
which  we  are  speaking.  The  Goths  of  Dacia  and 
their  eastern  kinsmen  were  distinguished  by  the  old 
names  of  Visigoths  and  Ostrogoths.  How  far  they 
were  respectively  the  descendants  of  those  who  had 
borne  these  names  in  earlier  times  we  cannot  tell. 
The  Ostrogoths  seem  to  have  formed  a  united  nation, 
while  the  Visigoths  were  independent  of  them,  and 
were  divided  into  separate  tribes  under  different 
chieftains,  without  any  common  head. 

Quiet  and  uneventful  as  were  these  fifty  years  in 
the  history  of  the  Gothic  people,  they  were  full  of 
stirring  incidents  in  the  history  of  the  Roman  Empire. 
In  the  course  of  this  period  the  Roman  world  was 
ruled  by  several  emperors  of  uncommon  ability, 
amongst  whom  was  one  man  of  surpassing  genius, 
named  Diocletian,  who  introduced  important  changes 
into  the  government.  But  of  these  it  is  not  necessary 
here  to  speak,  nor  of  the  civil  wars  and  the  struggles 
with  the  Franks  and  other  nations,  which  the  empire 
had  to  sustain. 

When  the  Goths  first  broke  their  long  peace  with 
Rome,  it  was  in  the  reign  of  the  emperor  Constantine 
the  Great.     Two  of  the  actions  of  this  emperor  had 


a  profound  effect  on  all  succeeding  history.  He 
established  Christianity  as  the  state  religion  of  the 
empire  ;  and  he  removed  the  seat  of  government  from 
Rome  to  his  new  city  of  Constantinople.  Hence- 
forward we  have  to  remember  that  although  the 
empire  is  still  called  Roman,  the  ancient  capital  of 
the  world  from  which  that  empire  took  its  name  is 
now  only  its  second  city. 

The  first  conflict  between  the  Goths  and  Constantine 
took  place  in  the  year  322,  one  year  before  the  defeat 
of  his  colleague  and  rival  Licinius  made  him  undi- 
vided sovereign  of  the  empire.  The  Visigoths  and 
Ostrogoths,  in  one  united  army,  joined  by  Slavonic 
tribes  from  the  far  east,  had  made  an  attack,  under 
the  command  of  a  king  named  Aliquaca  [Alhwakars] 
on  the  Roman  provinces  south  of  the  Danube.  The 
emperor  defeated  them  in  three  successive  battles, 
and  compelled  them  to  submit.  But  he  thought  it 
well  to  offer  them  honourable  terms  of  surrender,  and 
the  result  showed  that  he  was  wise  in  so  doing  ;  for 
when  in  the  following  year  he  fought  his  decisive 
battle  against  Licinius  at  Hadrianople,  he  was  assisted 
by  the  army  of  Aliquaca,  consisting,  we  are  told,  of 
forty  thousand  men. 

*  Eight  years  after  this,  however,  Constantine  had 
again  to  meet  the  Goths  as  enemies.  It  seems  that 
the  Vandals,  or  a  part  of  them,  were  then  living  in 
what  is  now  Western  Hungary,  divided  from  the 
Gothic  territory  by  the  river  Theiss.  Quarrels  broke 
out  between  the  two  neighbouring  peoples,  and  the 
Goths  invaded  the  Vandal  territory  in  overwhelming 
numbers.     The  Vandals   appealed   for   help   to   the 


emperor,  who  listened  to  the  prayer,  and  marched 
in  person  to  chastise  the  aggressors.  When  the  Goths 
heard  of  his  approach,  they  crossed  the  Danube  led 
by  their  two  kings  Araric  and  Aoric,  and  hastened  to 
meet  the  Roman  army.  In  the  first  battle  Constan- 
tine  underwent  a  serious  defeat — for  the  first  time  in 
his  life.  But  in  the  succeeding  battles  of  the  cam- 
paign the  victory  was  all  on  the  side  of  the  Romans. 
The  emperor  was  helped  by  the  descendants  of  the 
Greek  colonists  in  the  Crimea,  who  were  no  doubt 
glad  of  the  opportunity  to  revenge  themselves  on  their 
old  oppressors.  The  Goths  were  thoroughly  humbled, 
and  were  glad  to  beg  for  peace.  It  was  always  Con- 
stantine's  policy — in  dealing  with  barbarians  at  least — 
to  try  by  kindness  to  make  friends  of  his  vanquished 
enemies  ;  and  the  Gothic  kings  and  nobles  received 
handsome  presents  and  special  marks  of  honour. 
Once  more  a  treaty  of  alliance  was  made  between  the 
Goths  and  the  Romans,  and  by  way  of  security  for 
his  faithfulness,  King  Araric  had  to  leave  his  eldest 
son  as  a  hostage  in  the  emperor's  hands. 

After  this  war  was  ended  the  Goths  seem  not  to 
have  troubled  the  Roman  Empire  for  more  than  thirty 
years  ;  but  in  other  directions  they  made  important 
conquests.  When  Araric  died,  the  people  chose  a 
new  king,  who  was  of  another  family.  His  name  was 
Geberic,  and  he  was  descended  from  a  line  of  famous 
heroes.  We  know  nothing  about  his  father  Hilderic 
or  about  Ovida  and  Nidada,  his  grandfather  and 
great-grandfather,  but  from  the  way  in  which  Jor- 
danes  mentions  them  it  is  plain  that  their  names  and 
deeds    must  in  his  time  have  been   very  familiarly 


known  from  the  old  Gothic  ballads.  King  Geberic 
determined  to  accomplish  the  task,  in  which  his 
predecessor  had  failed,  of  dislodging  the  Vandals. 
Constantine  did  not  say  him  nay,  for  the  Vandals, 
ungrateful  for  the  help  which  the  Romans  had  given 
them,  had  themselves  been  making  plundering  raids 
into  the  Roman  provinces.  On  the  banks  of  the 
river  Marosh  a  battle  was  fought,  in  which  Wisumar, 
the  Vandal  king,  was  killed,  and  his  army  was  routed 
with  great  slaughter.  The  conquered  Vandals  once 
more  appealed  to  Constantine,  and  he  gave  them 
permission  to  settle  in  Pannonia  and  other  parts  of 
the  empire.  The  Goths  took  possession  of  the  de- 
serted territory ;  and  being  thus  freed  from  enemies 
on  the  west,  they  soon  began  to  engage  in  schemes 
of  aggression  against  their  eastern  neighbours.  But 
of  these  we  shall  have  to  speak  in  the  next  chapter. 



We  come  now  to  a  reign  which  marks  a  great 
epoch  in  the  history  of  the  Gothic  people.  Erman- 
aric,  who  seems  to  have  been  chosen  king  about  the 
year  350,  was  a  great  warrior,  Hke  many  of  his  pre- 
decessors ;  but  his  pohcy,  and  the  objects  for  which 
he  fought,  were  markedly  different  from  theirs.  The 
former  kings  of  the  Goths  had  been  content  to  con- 
duct expeditions  for  the  sake  of  plunder  into  the 
territories  of  neighbouring  nations,  or  to  lead  their 
subjects  in  search  of  new  homes  in  other  lands.  But 
the  Gothic  people  had  now  once  more  acquired  a 
settled  territory  ;*  and  bitter  experience  had  compelled 
them  to  renounce  the  hope  of  conquests  in  the  more 
genial  and  wealthy  countries  of  the  south.  These 
new  conditions  gave  a  new  direction  to  their  warlike 
ambition.  Ermanaric  made  no  attempt  to  invade 
the  provinces  of  the  Roman  Empire  ;  but  he  resolved 
to  make  his  Ostrogothic  kingdom  the  centre  of  a 
great  empire  of  his  own.  The  seat  of  his  kingdom 
was,  as  tradition  tells  us,  on  the  banks  of  the  Dnieper. 
We  have  a  long  list  of  the  peoples  whom  he  subjected 
to  his  sway ;  but  the  names  have  been  so  blundered 
by  the  copyists  that  it  is  useless  to  repeat  them  here. 


We  can  however  form  some  notion  of  the  vast  extent 
of  his  empire  from  the  fact  that  amongst  the  nations 
he  subdued  were  the  Esthonians,  Hving  far  away  on 
the  shores  of  the  Gulf  of  Bothnia.  Another  of  the 
peoples  whom  he  conquered  was  the  Herules,  who,  as 
we  have  already  seen,  had  once  formed  one  nation 
with  the  Goths,  but  had  before  this  time  made  them- 
selves independent,  and  were  living  under  the  rule  of 
a  king  called  Alaric — a  name  which  a  generation 
later  became  famous  as  that  of  the  great  hero  of  the 
Visigoths.  A  Roman  historian  compares  Ermanaric 
to  Alexander  the  Great  ;  and  many  ages  afterwards 
his  fame  survived  in  the  poetic  traditions  of  Germans, 
Norsemen,  and  Anglo-Saxons.  These  traditions  are 
more  fabulous  than  historical  ;  they  bring  together 
as  contemporaries  persons  whom  we  know  to  have 
lived  at  periods  a  hundred  years  apart  ;  but  we  can 
gather  from  them  that  while  Ermanaric  was  feared 
and  admired  as  a  great  conqueror  and  an  able  ruler, 
he  was  bitterly  hated  as  a  cruel  and  selfish  tyrant. 

Ermanaric  was  the  first  king  since  Ostrogotha  who 
belonged  to  the  Amaling  family.  Down  to  this  time, 
the  Gothic  kings  seem  to  have  been  chosen  by  free  elec- 
tion from  any  of  the  noble  families,  and  we  have  no 
proof  that  a  son  ever  succeeded  his  father.  But 
henceforward  the  kingship  of  the  Ostrogoths  became 
hereditary  among  the  descendants  of  Ermanaric. 

During  this  time  the  Visigoths  appear  to  have  been 
practically  independent,  divided  into  separate  tribes 
ruled  by  their  own  "judges  "  or  chieftains  ;  but,  while 
these  chieftains  seem  to  have  been  free  to  make  war 
and  peace  on  their  own  account,  it  is  probable  that  in 


theory   they   acknowledged   the    supremacy   of    the 
Ostrogothic  king. 

But  the  great  empire  of  Ermanaric,  which,  like  that 
of  Napoleon,  had  been  created  by  conquest  in  one 
lifetime,  was  doomed,  like  Napoleon's,  to  an  inglorious 
end.  For  in  the  king's  old  age  there  appeared  upon 
the  scene  a  new  enemy,  with  whom  he  was  unable  to 
contend.  The  Tartar  people  of  the  Huns  had  for- 
saken their  ancient  camping  grounds  in  Asia,  and  in 
overwhelming  numbers  poured  westward  over  the 
plains  of  Russia.  Nation  after  nation  was  subdued  as 
they  advanced,  and  compelled  to  join  the  devastating 
horde.  Their  approach  inspired  amongst  the  subjects 
of  Ermanaric  a  wild  panic,  which  was  caused,  not 
merely  by  their  vast  multitude,  and  by  the  fame  of 
their  unresisted  career  of  conquest,  but  by  the  super- 
stitious horror  which  their  strange  and  terrible  appear- 
ance excited.  Dwarfish,  and,  as  it  seemed,  deformed 
in  figure,  but  of  enormous  strength,  their  swarthy  and 
beardless  faces  of  frightful  ugliness  ("  with  dots  instead 
of  eyes,"  says  Jordanes),  and  rendered  still  more  hideous 
by  tattooing,  it  is  no  wonder  that  they  were  regarded 
by  the  Goths  rather  as  demons  than  as  men.  A 
Roman  writer  compares  their  aspect  to  that  of  the 
roughly  hewn  caricatures  of  human  faces  which  were 
carved  on  the  parapets  of  bridges.  The  aged  king  of 
the  Goths  tried  to  urge  his  people  to  resistance,  but 
they  were  paralysed  by  terror,  and  the  subject  tribes 
gladly  hailed  the  invasion  as  an  opportunity  to  throw 
off  the  yoke  of  the  detested  tyrant.  When  Ermanaric 
saw  that  his  empire  was  falling  to  pieces,  he  is  said  to 
have  taken  his  own  life  in  his  despair.     This  seems  to 


be  the  true  story  of  his  end  ;  but  the  account  given 
by  Jordanes  does  not  mention-  the  suicide,  and  mixes 
up  the  history  with  a  romantic  legend,  which  appears 
in  many  differing  forms  in  German  and  Scandinavian 
traditions.  According  to  one  of  the  later  versions  of 
this  legend,  the  tyrant  had  sent  his  son  to  woo  for 
him  the  beautiful  Swanhilda,  the  daughter  of  a  queen 
named  Gudrun.  But  the  son,  prompted  by  an  evil 
counsellor,  won  the  maiden  for  his  own  bride.  Erma- 
naric,  "  the  furious  traitor,"  as  an  Anglo-Saxon  poet 
calls  him,  cunningly  disguising  his  anger,  enticed 
Swanhilda  by  fair  words  into  his  own  power,  and  then 
in  his  fierce  revenge  ordered  her  to  be  torn  in  pieces  by 
wild  horses.  Her  brothers  (named  Sorli  and  Hamdhir 
in  Norse  story,  Sarus  and  Ammius  according  to 
Jordanes)  attacked  Ermanaric,  and  cut  off  his  hands 
and  feet,  leaving  him  to  linger  in  misery  and  help- 
lessness until  his  hundred  and  tenth  vear. 

Ermanaric  died  in  the  year  375,  and  the  Ostrogoths 
were  subdued  by  the  Hunnish  king  Balamber.  For 
a  whole  century  they  remained  subject  to  the  Huns, 
even  fighting  on  the  side  of  their  masters  against 
their  own  kinsmen  the  Visigoths.  Of  the  history 
of  the  Ostrogoths  during  this  time  of  humiliation 
there  is  not  much  to  tell.  They  did  not  submit  to  the 
savage  invaders  quite  without  a  struggle.  One  large 
body  of  them,  led  by  two  generals,  Alatheus  [Alhthius] 
and  Safrax,  taking  with  them  a  boy  of  Amaling 
descent  named  Wideric,  whom  they  chose  as  their 
king,  emigrated  westward  soon  after  Ermanaric's 
death,  and  joined  the  army  of  the  Visigoths,  where 
we  shall  hear  of  them  again.     A  few  years  later,  one 


portion  of  the  Ostrogoths  who  were  left  behind,  chose  a 
king  named  Winithari  [Winithaharyis],  a  grandson  of 
Ermanaric's  brother,  and  tried  to  throw  off  the  Hunnish 
yoke.  While  the  Huns  were  busy  with  new  conquests, 
Winithari  overran  the  country  of  the  Antae,  a 
Slavonic  people  whom  the  Huns  had  made  tributary  ; 
and  the  Gothic  historian  confesses  without  shame  that 
his  countrymen  crucified  the  king  of  the  Anta^  and 
seventy  of  his  nobles.  But  the  rest  of  the  Ostrogoths, 
under  Hunimund,  the  son  of  Ermanaric,  continued  to 
be  subject  to  the  Huns,  and  joined  the  army  of 
Balamber  to  crush  the  revolt  of  their  countrymen. 
In  two  battles  Winithari  was  victorious,  but  in  the 
third  he  was  defeated  and  killed.  Balamber  married 
an  Amaling  princess  named  Waladamarca,  and  the 
Ostrogoths  submitted  quietly  to  his  sway.  They  were 
allowed,  however,  to  choose  their  own  kings,  who 
assisted  the  Huns  in  their  conquests.  Hunimund 
famed  for  his  beauty,  won  victories  over  the  German 
nation  of  the  Sueves.  His  son  Thorismund  conquered 
the  Gepids,  and  was  killed  "  in  the  flower  of  his 
youth,"  by  a  fall  from  his  horse. 

We  are  told  that  the  Ostrogoths  were  so  stricken 
with  grief  for  the  death  of  their  young  hero  that  they 
chose  no  other  king  for  fort}^  years.  Of  course  we  can- 
not believe  this  ridiculous  tale,  which  seems  to  have 
been  taken  from  the  Gothic  ballads.  The  plain  prose 
account  of  the  matter  would  probably  be,  that  the 
Ostrogoths  were  unable  to  choose  a  king  who  was 
approved  of  by  their  Hunnish  masters,  so  that  the 
latter  kept  the  government  in  their  own  hands.  The 
young  prince   Berismund,  whose  right  it  was  to  sue- 


ceed  his  father  Thorismund,  was  naturally  discontented 
at  being  excluded  from  the  throne,  and  went  away  to 
join  the  Visigoths,  who  were  then  settled  in  Gaul. 
It  seems  he  thought  that  the  Visigoths  would 
make  him  their  king  ;  but  he  found  that  the  throne 
was  already  occupied, and  he  kept  his  Amaling  descent 
a  secret.  The  king  of  the  Visigoths  receiv^ed  him 
kindly,  and  promoted  him  to  high  rank  on  account 
of  his  bravery  ;  but  during  his  lifetime  it  was  never 
known  who  he  was. 

When  the  forty  years  were  ended — about  the  year 
440 — the  Huns  once  more  allowed  the  Ostrogoths  to 
have  a  king  of  their  own.  His  name  was  Walamer, 
and  he  was  the  son  of  Wandalhari,  and  the  grandson 
of  King  Winithari.  He  had  two  brothers,  Theudemer 
and  Widumer,  to  whom  he  entrusted  the  care  of  por- 
tions of  his  kingdom,  and  who  succeeded  him  when  he 
died.  The  unity  and  the  mutual  affection  of  these  three 
brothers  are  described  by  Jordanes,  in  almost  poetical 
words,  as  having  been  something  singularly  beautiful. 
During  the  greater  part  of  Walamer's  life,  the  three 
brothers  were  faithful  servants  of  the  Huns,  and  their 
subjects  fought,  against  their  own  kin,  in  the  armies 
of  Attila.  But,  when  Attila  died  in  453,  his  sons 
quarrelled  for  supremacy,  and  the  Ostrogoths  regained 
their  freedom.  The  Huns  made  an  effort  to  re- 
conquer them,  but  were  defeated  by  Walamer  in  a 
decisive  battle.  On  the  day  when  the  news  was 
brought  to  Theudemer  of  his  brother's  triumph,  a 
son  was  born  to  him  This  "  child  of  victory  "  was 
the  great  Theoderic  [Thiudareiks],  who  was  destined 
to  fulfil  the  omen  of  his  birth,  and  to  raise  the  Ostro- 



gothic  nation  to  the  highest  position  among  the  people 
of  the  Teutonic  stock.  The  name  of  Theoderic  is  the 
most  glorious  in  Gothic  history  ;  but  before  we  begin 
his  story  we  must  turn  back  a  hundred  years,  and 
inquire  what  the  Visigoths  had  been  doing  while 
their  eastern  brethren  were  the  humble  vassals  of  a 
horde  of  Asiatic  savages. 



We  told  you  in  the  last  chapter  that  during  the 
third  quarter  of  the  fourth  century  the  Visigoths 
formed  part  of  the  great  empire  of  the  Ostrogoth 
Ermanaric.  In  the  earlier  part  of  the  famous  con- 
queror's reign,  while  his  power  was  still  at  its  height, 
it  is  very  probable  that  they  were  his  subjects  in 
reality  as  well  as  in  name.  But  when  the  Ostrogothic 
kingdom  began  to  be  invaded  by  the  Huns,  and  the 
conquered  nations  were  claiming  their  freedom,  the 
Visigoths  seem  to  have  been  allowed  to  manage  their 
own  affairs  as  they  liked,  and  to  wage  war  or  make 
treaties  on  their  own  account,  without  waiting  for  the 
approval  of  the  Amaling  king. 

The  Visigoths  were  divided  into  three  tribes  or 
petty  kingdoms,  which  were  ruled  by  "  judges  "  named 
Athanaric,  Frithigern,  and  Alawiw.  Of  these  three 
chieftains  Athanaric  was  the  most  powerful,  and  the 
other  two  seem  to  have  recognized  his  claim  to  leader- 
ship. He  had  inherited  his  power  from  his  father 
Rothestes,  who  had  been  a  faithful  ally  of  the 
Romans,  and  had  received  the  honour  of  a  statue  or 
a  memorial  column  at  Constantinople.  Athanaric  is 
said   to  have  been  a  brave  warrior,  but  his  history 


perhaps  gives  more  evidence  of  his  cunning  than  it 
does  of  his  bravery. 

In  order  to  understand  the  story  of  the  Visigoths 
under  their  "judges,"  we  must  take  a  glance  at  the 
events  that  had  been  happening  at  Constantinople. 

When  Constantine  the  Great  died  in  337,  he  was 
succeeded  first  by  his  three  sons,  and  afterwards  by 
his  nephew  Julian,  who  is  called  the  Apostate,  because 
he  forsook  Christianity,  and  during  his  two  years' 
reign  set  up  heathenism  as  the  religion  of  the 
empire.  After  Julian's  death,  the  Romans  thought 
they  had  had  enough  of  the  house  of  Constantine, 
and  chose  as  their  emperor  Jovian,  an  officer  of  the 
imperial  household.  But  he  only  lived  a  year  after 
he  was  raised  to  the  throne,  and  then  the  diadem  was 
bestowed  on  Valentinian,  the  most  successful  general 
of  his  time. 

Valentinian,  though  uneducated,  was  a  man  of 
strong  mind  and  resolute  will  ;  but  he  perceived  that 
the  government  of  the  Roman  world  was  a  task  too 
heavy  for  one  man  to  manage.  He  therefore  deter- 
mined to  share  the  supreme  power  with  his  brother 
Valens,  whom  he  sent  to  Constantinople  as  emperor 
of  the  East,  while  he  kept  for  himself  the  rule  over 
the  western  provinces.  Unfortunately  Valens,  though 
a  brave  soldier  and  a  well-meaning  man,  had  little 
decision  of  character  or  knowledge  of  men  ;  and  just 
at  this  time  the  Eastern  empire  needed  a  strong  and 
skilful  ruler  even  more  than  did  the  empire  of  the 
West.  To  make  the  matter  worse,  Valens  did  not 
even  know  Greek,  which  was  the  language  spoken  by 
the  greater  part  of  his   subjects.     It   was   not   long 


before  the  emperor  found  himself  entangled  in  fearful 
difficulties  ;  and  his  weak  and  vacillating  policy — 
doing  a  thing  one  day  and  undoing  it  the  next,  losing 
precious  time  in  long  deliberation,  and  then  acting 
rashly  after  all — brought  on  a  succession  of  calamities 
that  came  very  near  destroying  the  Eastern  empire 

Since  the  time  of  Constantine,  the  Visigoths  had 
faithfully  observed  the  treaty  which  they  had  made 
with  that  emperor,  and  had  continued  to  supply  their 
promised  number  of  men  to  the  Roman  armies. 
Athanaric,  so  far  as  we  can  discover,  honestly  in- 
tended to  continue  the  policy  of  friendship  with  Con- 
stantinople, but  he  made  a  great  mistake  which  cost 
him  and  his  people  dearly.  A  cousin  of  the  emperor 
Julian,  named  Procopius,  rebelled  against  Valens, 
expelled  him  from  Constantinople,  and  got  himself 
proclaimed  emperor.  He  called  on  the  Visigoths  to 
fulfil  their  treaty  engagements ;  and  Athanaric,  re- 
garding Procopius  as  the  real  emperor,  at  once  sent 
over  thirty  thousand  men  into  Thrace.  Apparently 
Athanaric  did  not  go  himself,  for  his  father  (so  at 
least  he  said  afterwards)  had  made  him  swear  never 
to  set  foot  on  Roman  soil.  We  can  imagine  how  the 
thirty  thousand  would  enjoy  the  opportunity  of  return- 
ing, actually  under  imperial  sanction,  to  their  old 
sport  of  plundering  the  Thracian  provincials.  But 
while  they  were  ravaging  the  country,  never  dreaming 
of  resistance,  they  suddenly  learned  that  Procopius 
was  dead,  and  that  Valens  was  again  master  at  Con- 
stantinople. Instead  of  having  earned  the  gratitude 
of  the  Roman  Empire,  they  had  made  it  their  enemy. 


By  cutting  ofif  their  supplies  and  provisions,  and  pre- 
venting them  from  retreating  across  the  Danube,  the 
generals  of  Valens  managed,  without  very  much 
fighting,  to  compel  the  Goths  to  surrender  at  dis- 
cretion. The  Romans  spared  their  lives,  but  sold  the 
common  soldiers  into  slavery,  and  sent  the  chiefs  to 
live  as  prisoners  of  war  in  distant  parts  of  the  empire. 

When  Athanaric  heard  of  this  disaster,  he  sent 
ambassadors  to  Constantinople ;  but  it  was  not  by 
any  means  to  beg  humbly  for  mercy  from  the  con- 
queror. Instead  of  that  he  assumed  an  air  of  injured 
innocence.  His  envoys  bitterly  reproached  the  as- 
tonished Romans  with  an  unprovoked  breach  of  the 
treaty  between  the  two  nations.  All  that  the  Visi- 
goths had  done,  they  said,  was  to  render  their 
promised  assistance  to  the  Roman  Empire.  To  be 
sure  they  had  in  their  simplicity  supported  the  wrong 
emperor  ;  but  instead  of  being  angry  with  them  for 
their  mistake  Valens  ought  to  have  been  thankful  to 
them  for  their  good  intentions  !  They  therefore  de- 
manded that  their  prisoners  of  war  should  at  once  be 
set  at  liberty. 

One  would  suppose  that  this  audacious  demand 
would  have  been  at  once  rejected  with  laughter  ;  but 
Valens  seems  at  first  to  have  been  half  inclined  to 
agree  to  it.  However,  he  wrote  for  advice  to  his 
brother  Valentinian,  who,  as  might  have  been  ex- 
pected, told  him  to  go  and  attack  Athanaric  in  his 
own  country.  Valens  did  so,  and  the  war  lasted 
three  years.  The  Romans  won  most  of  the  battles, 
but  they  did  not  make  much  progress  towards  sub- 
duing the  country,  and  they  were  glad  at  last  to  agree 


to  a  peace.  The  cunning  Athanaric  consented  that 
the  Gothic  chieftains  should  be  deprived  of  the 
pensions  they  had  been  accustomed  to  receive  from 
the  Romans  ;  but  he  managed  to  procure  an  ex- 
ception in  his  own  favour,  and  to  get  himself  recog- 
nized by  the  Romans  as  king  of  all  the  Visigoths. 
When  the  conditions  of  peace  were  agreed  upon, 
Valens  wished  that  the  treaty  should  be  ratified  at  a 
personal  interview  between  himself  and  Athanaric, 
for  whom  he  seems  to  have  "conceived  a  good  deal  of 
respect.  Athanaric,  however,  pleaded  that  the  oath 
he  had  taken  to  his  father  prevented  him  from  cross- 
ing the  Danube  into  Roman  territory,  and  he 
threatened  that  he  should  consider  the  peace  broken 
if  the  emperor  set  foot  in  Dacia.  He  proposed  that 
the  meeting  between  Valens  and  himself  should  take 
place  in  boats  in  the  middle  of  the  Danube.  There 
is  something  amusing  in  the  clever  way  in  which 
Athanaric  continued  to  avoid  everything  that  looked 
like  a  confession  of  defeat.  Valens  must  have  felt 
that  the  barbarian  was  laughing  at  him,  but  he  did 
not  venture  to  refuse  the  offered  arrangement.  The 
treaty  was  confirmed,  and  the  emperor,  as  well  as 
Athanaric,  had  to  give  hostages  as  security  for  its 
faithful  observance.  The  result  of  these  negotiations 
was  anything  but  a  brilliant  success  for  the  ruler  of 
Constantinople,  but  of  course  he  celebrated  a  triumph 
when  he  got  home,  and  the  Court  scribes  and  orators 
talked  as  if  Valens  had  been  another  Claudius 

For  the  next  two  or  three  years  (the  peace  was 
concluded  in  the  year  369),  Athanaric  was  busy  per- 


secuting  the  Christians  (who,  as  we  shall  find  in  the 
next  chapter,  were  becoming  numerous  among  the 
Visigoths),  and  in  a  petty  war  with  Frithigern,  who 
was  defeated  and  driven  out  of  the  country,  though 
he  was  soon  reinstated  by  the  Romans.  However,  in 
the  year  376  the  judges  of  the  Visigoths  had  made 
up  their  quarrels,  and  Athanaric  was  acting  as  com- 
mander-in-chief of  the  armies  of  the  whole  nation, 
which  were  massed  on  the  west  bank  of  the  Dniester, 
with  the  Huns  facing  them  on  the  other  side.  As 
the  enemy  had  no  boats,  Athanaric  thought  himself 
safe  from  immediate  attack.  But  one  moonlight 
night  a  body  of  the  Huns  made  their  horses  swim 
over  the  river,  and  surprised  the  Gothic  camp.  Ath- 
anaric had  to  retreat  hastily  to  the  west  of  the  river 
Pruth,  where  there  were  some  deserted  Roman  earth- 
works which  he  meant  to  repair,  and  by  means  of 
them  to  offer  defiance  to  the  foe.  But  the  Visigoths 
were  stricken  with  panic,  and  would  think  of  nothing 
but  flight.  Frithigern  and  Alawiw  sent  ambassadors 
to  the  emperor,  begging  him  to  let  them  cross  the 
Danube.  When  Athanaric  saw  that  he  could  not 
persuade  the  people  to  offer  any  resistance,  he  went 
away  with  a  few  hundred  men  towards  the  north- 
west, into  a  country  which  the  Roman  writers  call 
Caucalanda,  a  name  which  is  evidently  meant  for 
hauhaland,  the  Gothic  form  of  our  English  word 
Highland,  and  probably  denotes  the  mountain  region 
of  Transylvania. 

And  so  Athanaric  disappears  from  our  story  for 
four  or  five  years,  during  which  time  his  rival  Frithi- 
gern was  practically  king  of  all  the  Visigoths. 



We  must  now  turn  aside  for  a  little  while  from  the 
direct  course  of  our  history  to  tell  the  story  of  a  Goth 
who,  in  the  midst  of  all  the  confusion  of  this  age  of 
turbulence  and  bloodshed,  spent  his  life  in  quietly 
doing  good,  and  whose  influence  on  the  future  history 
of  his  nation  was  quite  as  powerful  as  that  of  any  of 
the  soldiers  and  statesmen  of  his  time.  Milton  ex- 
pressed a  sad  truth  when  he  said  that  the  victories 
of  peace  are  "  less  renowned  "  than  those  of  war  ;  but 
although  the  name  of  Wulfila^  the  Bishop  is  not  so 
famous  as  those  of  many  men  far  less  worthy  to  be 
remembered,  it  will  no  doubt  be  familiar  to  many 
readers  to  whom  the  names  mentioned  in  the  pre- 
ceding chapters  were  altogether  unknown. 

It  seems  that  Wulfila  was  born  about  the  year  310 
or  311,  but  where  his  birthplace  was  in  the  wide  tract 
of  country  then  inhabited  by  the  Goths,  we  do  not 
know.  It  is  said  that  he  was  not  of  pure  Gothic 
descent,  for  his  grandfather  was  a  native  of  Cappa- 
docia — one  of  those  unfortunate  prisoners  whom  the 
Goths  carried  away  from  their  homes  when  they 
ravaged  Asia  Minor  about  the  year  267.     However 

'  Often  written  Ulphilas. 

wulfila's  education.  57 

this  may  be,  his  parents  gave  him  a  Gothic  name, 
and  his  whole  life  proves  that  he  was  a  thorough 
Gothic  patriot  at  heart. 

You  may  remember  that  after  their  king  Araric 
had  been  defeated  in  battle,  the  Goths  made  a  treaty 
of  alliance  with  the  emperor  Constantine ;  and  in  the 
year  332  they  sent  ambassadors  to  the  imperial  city 
to  settle  the  conditions  of  peace.  How  it  came  to 
pass  that  the  young  Wulfila  accompanied  this  em- 
bassy we  can  only  guess.  Perhaps  the  grandson  of 
the  Cappadocian  captive  had  learned  to  speak  Greek 
as  well  as  Gothic  in  his  own  home,  and  so  was  useful 
as  an  interpreter  ;  or  perhaps  he  may  have  been  one 
of  those  young  Goths  who,  along  with  King  Araric's 
son,  were  to  be  left  in  the  emperor's  hands  as  security 
for  the  treaty  being  faithfully  kept.  Whether  by  his 
own  choice  or  not,  we  know  that  he  remained  at 
Constantinople,  and  received  a  good  education,  learn- 
ing to  speak  and  write  Latin  as  well  as  Greek. 

But  Wulfila  was  like  Moses,  who,  though  "  learned 
in  all  the  wisdom  of  the  Egyptians,"  and  living  in 
comfort  and  honour  in  Pharaoh's  court,  could  not  be 
content  while  his  own  people  were  in  misery.  Whether 
Wulfila  was  a  Christian  before  he  went  to  Constanti- 
nople we  do  not  know ;  certainly  there  had  been 
some  few  Christian  Goths  before  his  time.  But  if 
he  was  not  already  a  Christian,  he  very  soon  became 
one,  and  his  mind  was  filled  with  a  burning  desire  to 
go  as  a  missionary  to  convert  his  countrymen  from 
their  cruel  heathen  ways.  With  this  end  in  view  he 
became  a  priest,  and  when  he  was  thirty  years  old 
the   bishops   assembled   at   the  Council   of  Antioch 

58  ■        THE   APOSTLE   OF   THE   GOTHS. 

ordained  him  bishop  of  the  Goths  dwelling  north  of 
the  Danube. 

For  seven  years  after  this  Wulfila  was  preaching 
the  gospel  to  his  countrymen  in  Dacia,  and  gained 
vast  numbers  of  followers  in  spite  of  bitter  opposition 
from  Athanaric.  The  persecution  at  last  became  so 
fierce  that  Wulfila  wrote  to  the  emperor  Constantius 
asking  him  to  let  the  Christian  Goths  have  a  home  in 
the  Roman  lands,  where  they  could  be  safe  from  the 
fury  of  their  oppressors.  The  permission  was  granted, 
and  Wulfila,  with  many  thousands  of  his  converts, 
crossed  the  Danube,  and  settled  near  Nicopolis 
in  Moesia,  at  the  foot  of  the  Balkan  mountains. 
Constantius  had  a  great  admiration  for  Wulfila,  and 
often  used  to  speak  of  him  as  "  our  second  Moses." 
The  people  whom  Wulfila  led  into  Moesia  (the  Lesser 
Goths,  as  they  were  called),  continued  to  dwell  there 
for  some  centuries,  peacefully  cultivating  their  lands, 
and  taking  no  part  in  the  fierce  wars  that  raged  all 
around  them. 

But  all  the  Christian  Goths  did  not  leave  Dacia 
along  with  Wulfila,  and  their  numbers  grew  so  fast 
that  about  the  year  369  Athanaric  thought  it  neces- 
sary to  resort  to  cruel  measures  in  order  to  suppress 
them.  His  rival,  Frithigern,  however,  was  either  a 
Christian  himself,  or  at  any  rate  favourable  to  the 
Christians,  and  when  Athanaric,  as  we  described  in 
our  last  chapter,  went  away  into  the  Transylvanian 
"  highlands  "  there  was  no  longer  any  resistance  to 
the  spread  of  the  gospel.  In  a  very  few  years  nearly 
the  whole  people,  Visigoths  and  Ostrogoths  alike, 
learned  to  call  themselves  Christians. 


It  may  be  well  to  explain  here  that  those  Christians 
from  whom  Wulfila  had  received  his  religious  teach- 
ing at  Constantinople  belonged  to  what  was  called 
the  Arian  sect :  that  is,  they  differed  from  the  general 
body  of  the  Church  in  believing  that  the  Son  of  God 
was  a  created  being.  The  Goths,  who  were  converted 
to  Christianity  through  the  preaching  of  Wulfila  and 
his  disciples,  naturally  became  Arians  too.  It  is 
important  to  remember  this,  because  many  of  the 
troubles  of  the  Goths  in  later  years  arose  from  the 
fierce  mutual  hatred  that  existed  between  Arians  and 
Catholics.  The  two  parties  often  thought  each  other 
worse  than  heathens,  and  persecuted  each  other 
cruelly.  As  for  Wulfila  himself,  however,  he  cared 
a  great  deal  less  about  the  harder  questions  of 
theology  than  he  did  about  the  plain  and  simple 
truths  which  help  men  to  act  kindly  and  justly 
towards  one  another,  and  to  look  up  with  love  and 
reverence  to  the  Giver  of  all  good. 

For  three  and  thirty  years  Wulfila  lived  among 
his  people  in  Moesia,  teaching  the  newly  converted 
heathens  the  lessons  of  Christian  faith  and  life,  and 
training  clergymen  to  carry  on  his  work  after  his 
death.  But  in  addition  to  these  labours  he  had 
imposed  on  himself  an  important  and  difficult  task, 
which  must  have  occupied  a  large  portion  of  his  life. 
He  perceived  clearly  that  if  Christianity  was  to  take 
deep  root  amongst  the  Goths,  and  to  continue  to 
be  held  by  them  in  its  purity,  it  was  necessary  that 
they  should  be  able  to  read  the  Scriptures  in  their 
own  tongue.  And  therefore  he  set  himself  to  work 
to  produce  a  translation  of  the  Bible  into  Gothic. 


2\O^^^feo^lh^Q%(BS[lIN10ST5\[N](i»  (^S^h 

Qjp(BQ  iM  ij^n  B^  0  ir^r  rs^M  ^1B)Q  ^^[ji]  M  (io  j^iMii;^ 


{Codex  Argeufeus.) 

Mark  vii.  3-7. 


Before,  however,  Wulfila  could  give  his  countrymen 
the  Bible,  he  had  to  teach  them  to  read,  and,  in  fact, 
to  reduce  their  language  to  a  written  form.  It  is  true 
that,  as  we  have  already  said,  the  Goths  had  already 
an  alphabet  of  their  own.  But  Wulfila  probably 
thought  that  the  Runic  alphabet  was  better  forgotten, 
because  of  the  heathenish  things  that  were  written  in 
it ;  at  all  events  he  chose  to  write  his  Gothic  Bible 
in  Greek  letters — large  capitals,  such  as  were  com- 
monly used  in  books  at  that  time.  There  were, 
however,  some  Gothic  sounds  which  could  not  be 
correctly  expressed  by  means  of  the  Greek  alphabet, 
and  for  these  Wulfila  adopted  the  Runic  characters, 
altering  their  shapes,  however,  so  as  to  give  them  as 
far  as  possible  the  general  appearance  of  Greek  letters. 
Our  earliest  manuscripts  of  the  Gothic  Bible  were 
written  about  150  years  after  Wulfila's  time,  and 
probably  the  forms  of  the  letters  had  before  then 
undergone  a  little  change,  but  it  is  still  quite  easy  to 
see  that  the  Gothic  alphabet  is  merely  the  Greek 
alphabet  with  half  a  dozen  new  signs. 

Wulfila's  translation  was  a  wonderful  piece  of  work 
for  the  age  in  which  it  was  written.  It  cannot  have 
been  very  easy,  in  the  fourth  century,  for  a  Goth  to 
acquire  such  a  thorough  knowledge  of  Greek  as  to 
enable  him  accurately  to  understand  the  text  of  the 
Scriptures  ;  and  to  make  a  faithful  translation  out  of 
one  language  into  another  requires  a  mind  trained  in 
habits  of  exact  thinking.  But  there  are  very  few 
passages  in  which  Wulfila  appears  to  have  misrepre- 
sented the  sense  of  his  original.  Many  of  the  words 
which  occur  in  the  Bible  had  nothing  properly  corres- 


ponding  to  them  in  Gothic,  because  they  denoted 
objects  or  actions  peculiar  to  civilized  life,  or  ideas 
belonging  to  Christian  ways  of  thinking,  which  were 
quite  strange  to  the  minds  of  people  who  had  been 
brought  up  in  heathenism.  The  way  in  which  Wulfila 
got  over  these  difficulties  is  often  very  curious.  The 
word  he  uses  for  "  writing,"  for  instance,  meant  pro- 
perly "  painting  "  or  "  marking,"  and  to  express  the 
meaning  of  "  reading  "  he  used  the  word  "  singing  "— 
no  doubt  because  in  reading  the  Bible  it  was  cus- 
tomary to  adopt  a  chanting  tone.  Our  Anglo-Saxon 
ancestors  expressed  these  ideas  in  a  different  way  : 
they  retained  the  old  words  that  had  been  used  in  the 
days  when  people  carved  the  runes  on  pieces  of  wood. 
Our  word  "  write "' properly  means  to  scratch  or 
engrave,  and  our  word  "  read "  meant  originally  to 
guess  or  give  the  answer  to  a  riddle,  just  as  "  rune  " 
itself  meant  a  secret  or  mystery  which  it  required  a 
clever  man  to  unravel.  Wulfila  seems  to  have  avoided 
these  expressions  on  purpose,  because  he  regarded 
Christian  writing  as  altogether  a  different  kind  of 
thing  from  heathenish  rune-carving. 

Here  is  the  Gothic  Lord's  Prayer  as  it  is  in  Wulfila's 
Bible,  with  a  word-for-word  translation,  which  will 
show  how  much,  even  yet,  our  language  resembles 
that  of  the  Goths.  The  English  words  that  are  in 
italics  are  of  the  same  origin  as  the  Gothic  words 
which  they  translate. 

Atta     unsar     thu  in     himinam,       weihnai    namo    thein.       Qimai 

Father    our    thou  in       heaven^    be  hallowed  name    thine.         Come 

thiudinassus  theins.  Wairthai  wilya  theins,     swe     in  himina  yah  in 

kingdom     thine.  Be  done     will     thine,   as  [j^?]  in  heaven  also  in 


airthai.  Hlaif        unsarana  thana  sinteinan   gif   uns  himma  daga. 

earth.     Bread  {loaf]        our         the     continual  give    us      this     day. 
Yah  aflet  uns      thatei      skulans     siyaima,  swa  swe  yah  weis 

And  forgive  {off-let'\   us  that  which  debtors      we  are,     so    as   also  we 
afletam        thaim   skulam   unsaraim.       Yah     ni     bringais    uns    in 
forgive  {pff-lef]    the     debtors        our.  And  w-ot      bring      us     in 

fraistubnyai,  ak  lausei  uns         af        thamma  ubilin.     Unte  theina  ist 
temptation,  but   loose     us    from  [of]       the         ei'iL         For    thine     is 
thiudangardi,  yah  mahts,  yah  wulthus  in      aiwins. 
kingdom,      and  might,   and     glory     z«        ages. 

We  do  not  know  how  much  of  the  Bible  Wulfila 
translated  into  Gothic.  One  ancient  writer  says  that 
he  translated  all  but  the  books  of  Kings,  which  he  left 
out  because  he  thought  that  the  stories  of  Israel's 
wars  would  be  dangerous  reading  for  a  people  that 
was  too  fond  of  fighting  already.  It  is  quite  in  accor- 
dance with  what  we  know  of  Wulfila's  character  that 
he  should  have  felt  some  uneasiness  about  the  effect 
that  such  reading  might  have  on  the  minds  of  his 
warlike  countrymen  ;  but  one  would  have  thought 
that  the  books  of  Joshua  and  Judges  would  have  been 
even  more  likely  to  stimulate  the  Gothic  passion  for 
fighting  than  the  books  of  Kings.  Probably  the  truth 
is  that  Wulfila  did  not  live  to  finish  his  translation, 
and  no  doubt  he  would  leave  to  the  last  the  books 
which  he  thought  least  important  for  his  great  purpose 
of  making  good  Christians. 

The  part  of  Wulfila's  Bible  that  has  come  down  to  us 
consists  of  a  considerable  portion  of  each  of  the  Gos- 
pels, and  of  each  of  St.  Paul's  Epistles,  together  with 
small  fragments  of  the  books  of  Ezra  and  Nehemiah. 
Six  different  manuscripts  have  been  found.  The  most 
important  of  these  was  discovered  in  the  sixteenth 
century  in  a  monastery  at  Werden  in  Germany.  After 

64        THE   APOSTLE   OF   THE   GOTHS, 

havingbeen  in  the  possession  of  many  different  owners, 
it  was  bought  in  1662  by  the  Swedish  Count  de  la 
Gardie,  who  gave  it  the  binding  of  solid  silver  from 
which  it  is  commonly  called  the  Codex  Argenteus, 
or  Silver  Book  ;  it  is  now  in  the  University  of 
Upsala,,and  is  regarded  as  one  of  the  choicest  trea- 
sures possessed  by  any  library  in  Europe.  It  is 
beautifully  written  in  letters  of  gold  and  silver  on 
purple  parchment,  and  contains  the  fragments  of  the 
Gospels.  Of  the  other  five  manuscripts  one  was  dis- 
covered in  the  seventeenth  century  in  Germany,  and 
the  rest  in  Italy  about  seventy  years  ago. 

Wulfila  visited  Constantinople  in  the  year  360, 
and  was  present  at  a  church  council  held  there.  In 
381,  when  he  was  seventy  years  old,  he  was  sent  for 
by  the  emperor  Theodosius  to  dispute  with  the 
teachers  of  a  new  sect  that  was  gaining  many  con- 
verts among  the  Goths.  But  almost  as  soon  as  he 
had  arrived  at  Constantinople  he  was  seized  with 
the  illness  of  which  he  died.  His  last  act  was  to 
write  out,  as  his  "  testament,"  a  profession  of  his  Chris- 
tian faith,  which  his  disciple  Auxentius  has  affec- 
tionately preserved. 



At  the  end  of  our  sixth  chapter,  we  left  Frithigern 
and  his  Visigoths  on  the  north  bank  of  the  Danube, 
in  continual  dread  of  an  attack  from  the  Huns,  and 
eagerly  awaiting  the  reply  of  the  emperor  Valens  to 
their  request  for  permission  to  cross  the  river  and  be- 
come subjects  of  the  Roman  Empire.  Valens  was  in 
Asia  (probably  at  Antioch)  where  the  ambassadors  of 
Frithigern  presented  themselves  before  him.  They 
told  him  of  the  terrible  danger  to  which  their  country- 
men were  exposed,  and  promised  that  if  they  were 
granted  a  home  in  Thrace  the  Visigoths  would  become 
his  faithful  and  obedient  subjects.  The  answer,  yes 
or  no,  had  to  be  given  at  once  :  there  was  no  time 
for  hesitation.  To  do  the  advisers  of  Valens  justice, 
it  was  not  altogether  "  with  a  light  heart  "  that  they 
came  to  the  decision  which  well-nigh  involved  the  em- 
pire in  irretrievable  ruin.  Some  of  them,  at  any  rate, 
clearly  perceived  the  danger  that  there  was  in  admitting 
such  a  vast  and  unruly  multitude  into  the  Roman  terri- 
tories. Others,  however,  urged  that  the  empire  was  in 
need  of  men  ;  its  population  had  for  a  long  time  past 
been  growing  smaller  ;  and  here  was  a  golden  oppor- 


tunity  of  adding  at  one  stroke  a  million  of  subjects  to 
the  dominions  of  their  sovereign.  After  much  anxious 
discussion,  the  prayer  of  the  Visigoths  was  granted. 
Possibly  the  experiment  might  not  have  turned  out  so 
badly  if  the  Goths,  when  they  had  been  admitted  into 
the  empire,  had  been  treated  with  generosity  and  con- 
fidence. But  first  to  accept  them  as  subjects,  and 
then  to  let  them  be  goaded  into  rebellion  by  every 
sort  of  oppression  and  insult,  was  a  course  that  could 
only  end  in  the  most  frightful  calamity. 

Orders  were  sent  to  the  Roman  governors  on  the 
banks  of  the  Danube  to  make  preparations  for 
bringing  the  Visigoths  across  the  river,  and  when 
a  sufficient  number  of  boats  had  been  collected, 
the  great  immigration  began.  Day  after  day,  from 
early  morning  till  far  into  the  night,  the  broad 
river  was  covered  with  passing  vessels,  into  which 
the  Goths  had  crowded  so  eagerly  that  many  of 
them  sank  on  the  passage,  and  all  on  board  were 
lost.  At  first  the  Romans  tried  to  count  the  people 
as  they  landed,  but  the  numbers  were  so  vast  that 
the  attempt  had  to  be  given  up  in  despair. 

If  the  Goths  at  first  felt  any  thankfulness  to  the 
Romans  for  giving  them  a  safe  refuge  from  their 
savage  enemies,  their  gratitude  was  soon  turned  into 
fierce  anger  when  they  got  to  know  that  their  children 
were  to  be  taken  from  them,  and  sent  away  into 
distant  parts  of  the  empire.  The  reason  for  this  cruel 
action  was  that  the  Romans  thought  the  Goths  would 
keep  quiet  when  they  knew  that  their  children  might 
be  killed  if  a  rebellion  took  place  ;  but  it  only  filled 
the  minds  of  the  barbarians  with  a  wild  longing  for 


revenge.  Valens  thought  he  could  make  himself  safe 
against  his  new  subjects  by  ordering  the  fighting  men 
to  be  deprived  of  their  weapons  ;  but  the  Goths,  who 
were  rich  with  the  plunder  they  had  taken  in  many 
wars,  found  that  it  was  easy  to  bribe  the  Roman 
officers  to  let  them  keep  their  arms. 

When  Valens  heard  that  the  Visigoths,  instead  of 
being  a  defenceless  multitude,  were  a  powerful  army, 
and  that  they  showed  signs  of  fierce  discontent,  he 
felt  that  he  had  made  a  great  mistake.  He  tried  to 
remedy  the  mischief  by  ordering  that  the  Goths 
should  be  divided  into  several  bodies,  and  removed  to 
different  parts  of  the  empire.  Just  at  this  time  those 
Ostrogoths  who  had  not  submitted  to  the  Huns  asked 
the  emperor  that  they  too  might  be  allowed  to  cross 
the  Danube  and  become  Roman  subjects.  Of  course 
the  request  was  refused  ;  but  the  Ostrogoths  took  no 
notice  of  the  refusal,  and  finding  an  unguarded  place, 
they  passed  the  river,  and  joined  themselves  to  the  sub- 
jects of  Frithigern. 

When  this  vast  multitude  of  strangers  had  been 
brought  into  the  Roman  provinces,  it  was  needful  to  con- 
sider how  they  should  be  supplied  with  the  necessaries 
of  life.  Valens  had  given  orders  that  arrangements 
should  be  made  to  furnish  the  Goths,  at  reasonable 
prices,  with  the  provisions  they  required,  until  they 
should  be  able  to  maintain  themselves  by  agriculture 
and  the  rearing  of  cattle.  But  unfortunately  the 
Roman  governors  of  Thrace,  Lupicinus  and  Maximus, 
were  avaricious  men,  who  saw  in  the  distresses  of  the 
Goths  a  chance  of  making  themselves  rich  by  ill- 
gotten  gains.     These  men  kept  the  food   supply  in 


their  own  hands,  and  doled  it  out  to  the  Goths  at 
famine  prices,  forbidding  every  one  else  to  sell  to 
them  more  cheaply.  Pressed  by  hunger,  the  miser- 
able people  had  to  give  a  slave  as  the  price  of  one 
loaf,  or  ten  pounds  of  silver  for  an  animal,  and  they 
were  often  compelled  to  feed  on  the  flesh  of  dogs  or 
of  animals  that  had  died  of  disease.  Some  of  them 
even  sold  their  own  children,  saying  it  was  better  to 
let  them  go  into  slavery  to  save  their  lives  than  to  keep 
them  where  they  would  die  of  hunger. 

During  all  these  terrible  hardships,  Frithigern  suc- 
ceeded in  keeping  his  followers  from  breaking  out 
into  revolt,  and  even  from  relieving  their  wants  by 
plunder  of  their  neighbours.  He  seems  to  have  been 
really  anxious  to  maintain  friendship  with  the  Romans 
if  he  could  ;  and  no  doubt,  also,  he  thought  of  the 
Gothic  boys  and  girls  who  were  kept  as  hostages  in 
distant  lands.  But  all  the  time  he  took  care  that  the 
Goths  should  be  ready  to  rise  as  one  man,  if  the 
burden  of  oppression  should  become  too  heavy  to  be 

The  occasion  was  not  long  in  presenting  itself 
Lupicinus  had  invited  Frithigern  and  the  other  chiefs 
to  a  banquet  at  Marcianopolis,  and  they  were  accom- 
panied by  a  few  attendants  into  the  palace,  the  Gothic 
people  being  encamped  outside  the  walls  of  the  city. 
While  the  feast  was  going  on,  an  uproar  arose  at  the 
city  gates  between  the  Roman  soldiers  and  the  hungry 
Goths,  who  saw  before  them  a  market  well  supplied 
with  food,  which  they  were  prevented  from  buying. 
Some  of  the  soldiers  were  killed,  and  news  of  what 
had  happened  was  brought  secretly  to  Lupicinus,  who, 


awakened  out  of  a  drunken  sleep,  gave  orders  for  the 
slaughter  of  Frithigern's  followers.  Frithigern  heard 
the  outcry,  and  soon  guessed  what  had  happened. 
With  rare  presence  of  mind,  he  quietly  said  that  it 
was  needful  for  him  to  show  himself  to  his  countrymen 
in  order  to  put  a  stop  to  the  tumult ;  and  beckoning  to 
his  companions,  he  boldly  led  the  way  through  the 
streets  and  out  at  the  city  gates,  while  the  Romans 
looked  on,  too  much  astonished  to  offer  any  opposition. 
When  the  chiefs  reached  the  camp,  they  told  their 
story  to  their  countrymen,  and  announced  that  the 
peace  with  the  Romans  was  at  an  end.  The  Goths 
broke  into  wild  shouts  of  applause  as  they  heard  this 
longed-for  declaration.  "  Better,"  they  said,  "  to  perish 
in  battle  than  to  suffer  a  lingering  death  by  famine." 
Very  soon  the  sound  of  the  Gothic  trumpets  warned 
the  garrison  of  Marcianopolis  that  they  must  prepare 
for  war. 

Lupicinus  hastily  collected  such  an  army  as  he 
could,  and  went  out  to  meet  the  foe  ;  but  the  Romans 
were  beaten,  and  their  cowardly  general  fled  for  his 
life  before  the  battle  was  decided,  and  took  refuge 
in  the  city.  And  now  the  Goths  made  amends 
for  their  past  privations  by  plundering  the  innocent 
country  people  of  the  Thracian  provinces.  They 
were  joined  by  some  Gothic  regiments  in  the  im- 
perial service,  who  had  been  driven  into  rebellion 
by  the  foolish  insolence  of  the  Romans  ;  and  the 
slaves  who  worked  in  the  Thracian  gold-mines,  set 
free  by  the  flight  of  their  cruel  masters,  were  glad  to 
serve  the  Goths  as  guides,  and  to  show  them  where 
the  stores  of  food  and  of  treasure  had  been  hidden. 


We  need  not  say  very  much  about  the  events 
which  immediately  followed.  There  was  one  great 
battle  at  a  place  called  "  The  Willows,"  which  was 
a  victory  for  neither  side,  but  resulting  in  terrible 
slaughter  to  both,  so  that  long  afterwards  the  field 
was  white  with  the  bones  of  the  unburied  dead  ; 
another  great  battle  on  the  Hebrus,  won  by  the 
Roman  General  Sebastian,  who  carried  off  a  vast 
quantity  of  spoil,  greater  than  could  be  stored  in 
the  city  of  Hadrianople  or  in  the  surrounding  plains ; 
and  several  less  important  conflicts,  in  which  some- 
times one  side  was  victorious  and  sometimes  the  other. 
But  in  spite  of  all  this  fighting  the  Gothic  army 
kept  growing  stronger  and  stronger,  being  joined 
continually  by  new  bands — Taifals,  Scythians,  Ostro- 
goth deserters  from  the  Huns,  and  even  by  some 
of  the  Hunnish  hordes  themselves. 

In  the  summer  of  378  Valens  came  back  to  Con- 
stantinople, and  found  himself  the  object  of  universal 
indignation.  Whenever  he  appeared  in  public  he  was 
assailed  by  shouts  of  abuse  for  his  folly  in  letting 
the  Goths  into  the  empire,  and  for  his  cowardice 
in  not  having  marched  in  person  to  subdue  them. 
Valens  felt  keenly  that  there  was  some  truth  in 
these  reproaches.  He  knew  that  he  had  made  a 
terrible  mistake  ;  and  though  he  also  knew  that  he 
had  meant  well,  and  that  he  was  no  coward,  he  had 
not  the  strength  of  mind  to  be  indifferent  to  popular 
clamour.  What  added  to  the  bitterness  of  his  feeling 
was  the  knowledge  that  the  people  were  making 
comparisons  between  himself  and  his  nephew  Gratian, 
the  brave  and  accomplished   young  emperor  of  the 

THE  emperor's  RASHNESS.  yt 

West,  who  had  been  winning  brilliant  victories  over 
the  Germans  on  the  Rhine  and  the  Upper  Danube. 
Valens  resolved  to  risk  everything  in  a  desperate 
attempt  to  repair  the  consequences  of  his  own  error. 
He  remained  only  a  few  days  in  the  capital,  and 
set  out  to  take  the  command  of  the  army,  which  was 
encamped  under  the  walls  of  Hadrianople. 

While  the  emperor  and  his  generals  were  discussing 
their  plans  for  the  management  of  the  war,  there 
arrived  at  the  camp  one  of  Gratian's  generals,  named 
Richomer,  who  brought  a  letter  saying  that  his 
master  would  soon  be  on  the  spot  at  the  head  of 
his  army,  and  begging  Valens  on  no  account  to  risk 
a  battle  until  Gratian  had  joined  him.  Well  would  it 
have  been  for  Valens  if  he  had  listened  to  this  advice  ; 
but  his  flatterers  urged  him  not  to  let  his  nephew 
share  in  the  glory  of  a  victory  which,  they  repre- 
sented, he  was  sure  to  win  ;  and  he  decided  to  hurry 
on  his  preparations  so  that  the  battle  might  be  over 
before  Gratian  arrived. 

The  Romans  had  everything  in  readiness  for  the 
attack,  when  a  Gothic  Christian  priest  (some  think 
it  must  have  been  the  bishop  Wulfila,  but  this  is  not 
very  likely)  accompanied  by  some  other  Goths  of 
humble  rank,  presented  themselves  before  Valens, 
bearing  a  letter  from  Frithigern,  in  which  he  offered 
to  enter  into  a  treaty  of  peace,  on  condition  that  the 
Goths  should  be  recognized  as  masters  of  Thrace. 
In  addition  to  this  official  despatch,  which  had  no 
doubt  been  sent  with  the  consent  of  the  Gothic 
assembly,  the  priest  had  brought  a  private  note  from 
Frithigern,   in   which   he    informed    Valens  that    he 


feared  the  Goths  would  not  remain  faithful  to  such 
a  treaty  if  they  got  what  they  wanted  too  easily,  and 
advised  the  emperor  to  make  a  display  of  force  so 
that  it  might  not  appear  that  his  concessions  were  the 
result  of  weakness.  What  the  Gothic  chief  meant 
by  these  tactics  it  is  not  easy  to  see :  the  historian 
who  tells  this  curious  story  intimates  that  the 
Romans  could  make  nothing  of  these  contradictory 
messages,  and  sent  the  ambassadors  home  without 
any  reply. 

It  was  on  the  morning  of  the  9th  of  August,  378, 
that  Valens,  leaving  his  treasure  within  the  walls  of 
the  city,  marched  from  Hadrianople  to  attack  the 
enemy.  After  the  army  had  proceeded  for  eight 
miles,  under  a  blazing  sun,  they  came  unexpectedly 
in  sight  of  the  waggons  of  the  Goths.  The 
troops  were  hastily  drawn  up  in  battle  array,  while 
the  barbarians  broke  out  into  the  fierce  chant  with 
which  they  were  accustomed  to  animate  their  courage 
before  an  engagement.  The  sudden  advance  of  the 
Romans  took  Frithigern  by  surprise.  The  Ostro- 
goths under  Alatheus  and  Safrax  were  many  miles 
away  in  search  of  plunder,  and  had  to  be  hurriedly 
sent  for.  In  order  to  delay  the  fighting  until  his 
allies  arrived,  Frithigern  sent  to  the  Romans  what 
we  should  call  a  flag  of  truce,  pretending  that  he 
wished  to  make  terms  for  surrender.  The  Romans 
fell  into  the  trap,  and  answered  that  they  were  willing 
to  agree  to  a  parley  if  the  Gothic  chief  would  send 
some  of  his  highest  nobles  as  the  bearers  of  his 
proposals.  The  messenger  returned  saying  that 
Frithigern    was   willing  to   come   and   negotiate   in 


person,  provided  that  some  officer  of  distinguished 
rank  was  previously  sent  to  the  Gothic  camp  as  a 
hostage.  This  unexpected  offer  was  hailed  by  the 
Romans  with  delight,  and  they  at  once  began  to 
discuss  whom  they  should  send.  The  unanimous 
choice  fell  on  the  tribune  Equitius,  commandant  of 
the  palace,  and  a  relative  of  Valens  ;  but  he  stoutly 
refused  the  dangerous  office,  saying  that  he  had 
escaped  from  barbarian  captivity  once  in  his  life,  and 
there  was  no  knowing  what  desperate  thing  the  Goths 
might  do  if  they  got  him  in  their  power.  The  dis- 
pute was  settled  by  Richomer,  who  nobly  volunteered 
to  accept  the  unwelcome  task  himself.  During  all 
these  long  discussions,  the  Roman  soldiers  were  kept 
under  the  burning  sun,  tormented  by  thirst  and 
hunger,  while  the  Goths  remained  comfortably  in 
their  encampment. 

Richomer  had  already  started  on  his  way  to  the 
Gothic  camp,  when  he  was  called  back  by  the  news 
that  the  battle  had  already  begun.  Some  Iberian 
troops  in  the  Roman  service,  tired  of  the  delay,  had 
made  an  attack  on  the  enemy  without  waiting  for 
orders.  They  were  immediately  routed;  and  just 
at  that  moment  the  long-waited  for  Ostrogoth  cavalry 
burst  ("  like  a  thunderbolt,"  says  a  contemporary 
writer)  upon  the  Roman  army.  Frithigern  caused 
the  trumpets  to  be  sounded  for  the  attack  ;  the 
Roman  cavalry  was  soon  dispersed,  and  the  infantry, 
surrounded  and  forced  into  a  dense  mass  so  that  they 
could  not  use  their  weapons,  and  worn  out  by 
hunger  and  fatigue,  were  slaughtered  by  thousands. 
The    Roman    general  Victor,    perceiving    that    the 


emperor  was  in  a  position  of  danger,  and  forsaken 
by  his  guards,  went  to  his  relief ;  but  when  he 
reached  the  place  Valens  was  not  to  be  found. 
Victor  and  the  other  generals  then  left  the  field  ;  but 
the  massacre  of  the  Romans  went  on  until  it  was 
interrupted  by  the  darkness  of  night. 

For  many  days  after  the  battle  parties  of  the 
Goths  were  constantly  on  the  field,  plundering  the 
dead,  so  that  none  of  the  Romans  ventured  to  make 
a  search  for  the  body  of  the  emperor.  What  his 
fate  had  been  was  not  known  until  many  years  after- 
wards, when  a  young  Roman,  who  had  escaped  from 
captivity  among  the  Goths,  related  how  he  had  been 
one  of  a  party  of  youths  who  had  conveyed  Valens, 
wounded  by  an  arrow,  to  a  cottage  on  the  battle- 
field, where  they  tried  to  attend  to  his  wound.  The 
enemy  attempted  to  burst  open  the  door,  but  failed, 
and,  not  knowing  who  was  inside,  set  fire  to  the 
cottage.  All  the  occupants  perished  except  the 
narrator  of  the  story,  who  jumped  out  of  the  window. 
The  Goths  were  bitterly  disappointed  when  they 
heard  from  the  survivor  that  they  had  thrown  away 
the  chances  of  capturing  a  Roman  emperor  alive,  and 
securing  for  themselves  his  ransom.  Whether  this 
tale  was  true  or  not,  it  was  at  any  rate  very  generally 
believed.  Several  Catholic  writers  of  the  fifth  and 
sixth  centuries,  who  imagined  that  Valens  had  been 
the  cause  of  the  Goths  becoming  Arians,  have  shown 
the  ferocity  of  their  religious  hatred  by  the  remark 
that  it  was  a  just  doom  that  he  who  had  caused  the 
souls  of  so  many  Goths  to  suffer  eternal  fire  should 
be  burned  alive  by  Gothic  hands. 


For  the  second  time  in  history  a  Roman  emperor 
had  perished  amid  the  total  ruin  of  his  army,  in 
conflict  with  the  Goths.  But  even  the  day  of  Abritta 
had  been  less  terrible  than  was  the  day  of  Hadria- 
nople.  Two-thirds  of  the  Roman  army  lay  dead  on 
the  field,  and  amongst  the  slain  were  two  generals 
of  great  renown,  Sebastian  and  Trajanus,  two  high 
officers  of  the  palace,  Equitius  and  Valerian,  and 
thirty-five  tribunes.  A  contemporary  historian  says 
that  no  such  disaster  had  befallen  the  Roman  arms 
since  that  of  Cannae.  We  can  hardly  doubt  that 
if  the  Goths  had  been  united  and  disciplined,  and 
had  known  how  to  use  their  victory,  the  Eastern 
empire  would  have  come  to  a  speedy  end.  But  this 
was  not  to  be ;  the  Goths  could  win  battles,  but  the 
art  of  conquest  they  had  yet  to  learn. 



On  the  morning  after  the  battle,  the  victorious 
Goths  at  once  began  to  lay  siege  to  the  city  of 
Hadrianople,  where  they  had  got  to  know  that  the 
imperial  treasure  had  been  deposited.  But  "  fighting 
with  stone  walls"  requires  more  patience  than  the 
barbarians  had  yet  learned  to  exercise.  When  their 
first  assaults  on  the  place  were  repulsed  with  heavy 
loss,  they  gave  up  the  attempt  in  disgust,  and  after 
two  days  marched  away  to  besiege  Constantinople. 
Their  first  attack  was  so  violent  that  they  had  nearly 
succeeded  in  forcing  the  gates,  and  perhaps  if  their 
fury  had  continued  unabated  the  imperial  city  would 
have  soon  become  their  prey.  But  a  band  of  Arab 
horsemen  in  the  Roman  service  issued  from  the  city, 
and  a  sharp  conflict  took  place.  The  skirmish  was 
indecisive,  but  a  panic  was  created  among  the  Goths 
by  the  sight  of  an  act  of  cannibalism  on  the  part  of 
one  of  the  Arabs,  who  sucked  the  blood  of  his  slain 
adversary.  The  thought  of  having  to  fight  with 
enemies  of  such  inhuman  ferocity  chilled  their  courage, 
and  after  continuing  the  siege  half-heartedly  for  a 
short  time,  they  abandoned  it  as  hopeless.  Carrying 
away  a  large  quantity  of  plunder  from  the  suburbs 



outside  the  city  walls,  they  wandered  away  to  the 
north,  and  spread  themselves  once  more  over  the 
provinces  from  the  Black  Sea  to  the  Adriatic,  which 
had  so  often  before  been  the  scene  of  their  ravages. 

We  do  not  know  much  about  what  the  Goths  may 
have  done  in  Thrace  and  lUyria  during  the  two  years 
following  their  great  victory.  The  Roman  writers 
complain  bitterly  of  the  havoc  and  devastation  which 
they  wrought,  but  they  tell  us  no  details.  But  surely 
the  worst  deeds  of  the  barbarians  can  scarcely  have 
equalled  in  cruelty  and  treachery  the  infamous  act 
by  which  the  civilized  and  Christian  Romans  revenged 
themselves  on  innocent  persons  for  the  defeat  at 
Hadrianople.  It  will  be  remembered  that  on  several 
occasions  when  treaties  were  made  between  the  Goths 
and  the  Romans,  a  number  of  the  children  of  Gothic 
nobles  were  given  up  to  the  Romans,  as  security  for  the 
faithful  observance  by  the  Goths  of  their  engagements. 
As  these  young  "hostages"  had  usually  been  sent  away 
to  the  East,  it  happened  that  at  the  time  we  now 
speak  of  most  of  the  cities  of  Asia  Minor  contained 
a  considerable  population  of  Gothic  youths.  The 
war  minister  of  the  Eastern  empire,  Julius,  had  heard 
rumours  that  great  excitement  prevailed  amongst 
these  young  Goths  at  the  result  of  the  battle  of  Had- 
rianople, and  that  many  of  them  had  openly  expressed 
disloyal  sentiments.  No  successor  had  yet  been  ap- 
pointed in  the  room  of  Valens,  and  Julius  obtained 
from  the  Senate  of  Constantinople  a  vote  authorizing 
him  to  do  whatever  he  thought  necessary  for  the  good 
of  the  State.  He  then  sent  to  the  governors  of  the  1 
Asiatic  provinces  secret  instructions  that  the  Gothic      i 


youths  should  be  induced,  by  promises  of  gifts  and 
honours,  to  assemble  on  a  certain  day  in  the  market- 
places  of  their   respective   cities.     When  they  were 
collected   together,  the  place  of  meeting  was  to  be 
surrounded  by  troops,  and  the  defenceless  Goths  were 
to  be  unsparingly  massacred.     This  dre'adful  plan  was 
successfully  carried  out,  and  its  author  was  praised  to 
the  skies  for  having  delivered  the  Eastern  provinces 
from  a  terrible  danger.     It  is  true  that  these  young 
Goths  had  been  given  up  by  their  people  as  hostages, 
and  the  forfeiture  of  their  lives,  when  the  treaty  had 
been  broken,  was  "in  the  bond  ; "  but  such  an  excuse 
does  little  to  lessen    the   guilt  of  Julius,  or  of  the 
Roman  public  which  applauded  his  treacherous  deed. 
Happily  the  ruler  who  was  chosen  to  succeed  Valens 
was    a   man    of  a  spirit  very  different  from   that   of 
Julius.     It  was  in  January,  379,  that  the  great  Theo- 
dosius    was    appointed    by    Gratian    emperor  of  the 
East     In  his  reign  of  sixteen  years  he  proved  once 
more,  what  every  really  great  emperor  since  Aurelian 
had  proved  before  him,  that  a  policy  of  justice  and 
kindness  could  convert  even  the  turbulent  Goths  into 
faithful  allies  and  subjects  of  the  empire. 

But  before  Theodosius  could  venture  to  do  anything 
to  conciliate  the  Goths,  it  was  necessary  that  he  should 
make  them  feel  that  he  was  to  be  feared.  He  had 
to  reorganize  his  shattered  army,  and  to  teach  his 
soldiers  to  overcome  the  terror  which  had  been  in- 
spired by  the  crushing  defeat  of  Hadrianople.  His 
policy  was  not  to  risk  any  great  battle,  but  to  fight 
only  when  he  had  such  advantages  of  position  and 
numbers  as  made  victory  certain,   so  that   his  own 


troops  grew  gradually  bolder,  and  the  Goths  became 
disheartened,  as  they  saw  that  the  gains  of  the  con- 
test, if  not  singly  very  important,  always  fell  to  the 
Roman  side.  The  quarrels  among  the  barbarians 
did  much  to  help  the  Roman  cause,  and  from  time 
to  time  Gothic  chiefs  who  thought  themselves  slighted 
by  Frithigern  deserted  to  the  emperor,  who  gave 
them  abundance  of  honours  and  rewards.  One  of 
these  deserters,  named  Modahari,  was  entrusted  with 
a  high  command  in  the  imperial  army,  and  gained 
for  the  Romans  the  greatest  victory  they  obtained  in 
the  war. 

Frithigern  seems  to  have  died  sometime  in  379  or 
380,  and  in  the  latter  year  Athanaric  crossed  the 
Danube.  On  what  ground  he  considered  himself 
released  from  the  oath  by  which  he  had  professed  to 
be  prevented  from  treading  Roman  soil,  we  do  not 
know,  but  very  likely  this  had  only  been  an  excuse- 
He  was  soon  acknowledged  by  the  greater  portion  of 
the  Visigoths  as  their  king,  and  his  first  act  was  to 
make  a  treaty  of  peace  with  the  emperor.  Theo- 
dosius  invited  him  to  Constantinople,  and  entertained 
him  splendidly.  The  sights  which  he  beheld  there 
impressed  him  with  profound  astonishment.  "  Often," 
he  said,  "  have  I  been  told  of  the  grandeur  of  this 
city,  but  I  never  believed  that  the  stories  were  true. 
The  emperor  is  a  god  on  earth,  and  whoever  resists 
him  is  guilty  of  his  own  blood."  Athanaric  did  not 
long  survive  his  arrival  at  Constantinople.  He  died 
in  January,  381,  and  was  honoured  with  a  royal 
funeral  and  a  costly  monument. 

During  the  next  two  years  those  Visigothic  tribes 


which  had  not  joined  in  the  treaty  made  by  Athanaric 
were  induced  one  after  the  other  to  make  their  sub- 
mission to  the  emperor.  In  the  year  386,  the  band 
of  Ostrogoths  who  had  formerly  followed  Alatheus 
and  Safrax,  and  were  now  led  by  a  chief  named 
Audathaeus,  had  returned  to  Dacia  after  having  made 
a  raid  into  the  north  and  west  of  Germany,  and  had 
attempted  to  cross  the  Danube  into  Thrace.  Their 
fleet  of  boats,  however,  was  unexpectedly  attacked  by 
the  Roman  soldiers ;  great  numbers  of  the  invaders 
perished  by  the  sword  or  by  drowning,  and  those 
who  succeeded  in  reaching  the  southern  bank  at  once 
surrendered  to  the  Romans. 

The  sovereignty  of  Theodosius  was  now  acknow- 
ledged by  the  whole  Gothic  nation,  excepting  only 
the  Ostrogoths  north  of  the  Danube  mouths  and  the 
Black  Sea,  who  still  continued  under  the  Hunnish 
yoke.  The  emperor  understood  the  character  of  his 
new  subjects  well  enough  to  perceive  that  gratitude 
and  honour  were  the  ties  which  could  best  secure 
their  faithfulness,  and  his  conduct  towards  them  was 
marked  by  kindness  and  confidence.  The  Visigoths 
were  provided  with  lands  in  Thrace,  and  the  Ostro- 
goths in  Asia  Minor ;  and  large  gifts  of  corn  and 
cattle  were  made  to  them.  They  were  allowed  to 
govern  themselves  by  their  ancient  laws.  Their 
warriors  were  embodied  into  a  separate  army,  under 
the  name  of  allies,  receiving  handsome  pay  and 
honoured  with  many  special  privileges,  and  many  of 
the  Gothic  nobles  were  promoted  to  high  office  in 
the  state  and  in  the  imperial  household.  These 
measures   had    their   intended  effect.     Although,  no 


doubt,  there  were  movements  of  discontent  here  and 
there,  yet  as  long  as  Theodosius  lived  the  great  body 
of  the  Goths  seem  to  have  regarded  their  benefactor 
with  feelings  of  passionate  loyalty.  In  his  wars 
against  the  Western  usurpers,  Maximus  and  Eugenius, 
the  Gothic  warriors  rendered  invaluable  service. 

It  is  plain  that  Theodosius  took  the  best  course 
that  was  open  to  him  under  the  circumstances.  The 
Goths  could  neither  be  expelled  nor  subdued  by 
force.  The  only  chance  of  rendering  them  harmless 
lay  in  winning  their  attachment,  in  making  them  feel 
that  their  rulers  were  their  friends.  For  this  purpose 
no  cautious  half-measures  would  have  been  of  any 
use.  The  emperor's  policy  of  unreserved  confidence 
might  appear  too  bold,  but  its  seeming  rashness  was 
the  truest  prudence. 

But  indeed  the  state  of  things  was  such  that  every 
policy  which  could  be  adopted  was  full  of  terrible 
danger.  Just  imagine  what  the  situation  was.  A 
vast  people  of  foreigners,  divided  from  their  fellow- 
subjects  in  language,  national  feeling,  and  religion, 
and  remembering  that  they  had  lately  been  the  con- 
querors of  the  Romans,  were  settled  in  the  heart  of  the 
empire  ;  and  forty  thousand  of  their  warriors  were  in- 
corporated into  a  separate  army,  supplied  with  Roman 
weapons,  and  to  be  trained  in  the  art  of  war  under 
skilled  Roman  generals.  And  it  was  soon  easy  to 
see  that  the  indulgence  bestowed  on  the  Goths  had 
developed  in  them  a  pride  which  would  not  tolerate 
the  smallest  slight,  and  might  easily  prompt  them  to 
wish  to  be  masters  instead  of  subjects.  It  is  said 
that  Theodosius  himself,  though  he  was  always  re- 



garded  by  the  Goths  as  their  friend,  was  not  ill-pleased 
when  he  heard  that  they  had  suffered  heavy  losses  in 
battle  ;  and  we  can  scarcely  wonder  if  it  was  so. 
Even  had  Theodosius  been  succeeded  by  a  long  line 
of  emperors  as  wise  as  himself,  it  is  unlikely  that  the 
loyalty  of  the  Goths  to  the  empire  could  have  been 
maintained  for  many  years.  But  what  might  in  that 
case-  have  happened  we  do  not  know  ;  whether  the 
outbreak  of  the  Gothic  revolt  might  have  been  pre- 
vented or  not,  at  any  rate  it  was  hurried  on  through 
the  folly  of  the  successors  of  the  great  emperor, 
and  the  recklessness  of  their  selfish  and  ambitious 



In  January,  395,  the  great  Theodosius  died.  Owing 
to  the  hne  of  the  Western  emperors  having  previously- 
come  to  an  end,  he  was  at  his  death  the  sovereign  of 
the  whole  Roman  world.  His  dominions  were  divided 
between  his  two  sons  ;  the  eldest,  Arcadius,  becoming 
emperor  of  the  East,  and  the  younger,  Honorius,  em- 
peror of  the  West.  They  were  both  mere  puppets  in 
the  hands  of  their  ministers  and  favourites,  and  though 
Arcadius  lived  till  408,  and  Honorius  till  423,  our  story 
would  not  lose  much  if  we  were  never  to  mention  their 
names  again. 

The  favour  shown  by  Theodosius  to  the  Goths  had 
excited  a  great  deal  of  jealousy  and  discontent,  which 
began  to  be  very  loudly  expressed  as  soon  as  he  was 
dead.  Some  people  were  foolish  enough  to  demand 
that  the  new  emperor  should  dismiss  all  his  Gothic 
soldiers,  and  drive  the  whole  nation  back  again  over 
the  Danube.  Of  course  the  Government  could  not 
attempt  to  carry  out  such  extravagant  proposals  as 
these,  but  the  popular  clamour  had  its  effect,  and  one 
of  the  first  things  that  was  done  in  the  name  of 
Arcadius  was  to  lower  the  pay  of  the  Gothic  "  allies." 

This  was  enough.     The  Romans  had  broken  <sheir 


treaty,  and  in  a  (ew  weeks  nearly  all  the  Visigoths 
rose  in  rebellion. 

Amongst  the  many  Gothic  chiefs  employed  in  the 
Roman  service  was  a  young  man  not  much  over  twenty 
years  of  age,  named  Alaric  [Alh-reiks],  a  member  of 
the  princely  family  of  the  Balthings.  Young  as  he 
was,  he  had  rendered  good  service  as  a  military  com- 
mander ;  but  when  he  asked  for  the  promotion  to 
which  his  deeds  entitled  him,  he  was  refused.  He 
joined  the  rebels,  who  at  once  chose  him  as  their  king  ; 
and  this  was  the  beginning  of  the  renowned  Balthing 
dynasty  of  the  Visigoths. 

Led  by  their  brave  young  king,  the  Visigoths 
marched  through  Macedonia  and  Thessaly,  and  en- 
tered Greece  through  the  famous  pass  of  Thermopylae. 
There  were  no  successors  of  Leonidas  and  his  three 
hundred  Spartans  to  oppose  their  progress ;  the 
guards  who  were  stationed  at  the  entrance  of  the  pass 
fled  without  striking  a  blow,  and  Alaric  and  his  host 
hastened  through  Phocis  and  Boeotia,  burning  villages 
and  carrying  away  the  population  as  slaves,  and  were 
soon  encamped  before  the  walls  of  Athens.  The 
Athenians  paid  a  heavy  ransom  in  money,  and  invited 
Alaric  to  a  splendid  banquet ;  and  so  the  Goths  de- 
parted, leaving  the  city  unhurt.  But  the  other  famous 
cities  of  Greece,  Megara,  Argos,  Corinth,  and  Sparta, 
fell  into  the  hands  of  the  barbarians  ;  the  inhabitants 
were  killed  or  taken  captive,  and  their  treasures 
divided  amongst  the  conquerors. 

The  great  general  of  Honorius,  Stilicho  the  Vandal, 
had  already  set  out  to  meet  Alaric  with  an  army  ; 
but   the  government  of  Constantinople  foolishly  re- 


fused  his  help.  But  in  the  following-  year  (396)  they 
were  glad  to  beg  for  it  of  their  own  accord.  Landing 
at  Corinth,  Stilicho  encountered  Alaric  in  Arcadia, 
and  succeeded  in  driving  him  into  the  mountain  region 
of  Pholoe,  near  the  frontiers  of  Elis.  It  now  seemed 
as  if  Alaric's  escape  was  impossible  ;  Stilicho  had 
hemmed  him  in  with  a  strong  line  of  earthworks,  and 
by  turning  aside  the  course  of  a  river  had  deprived 
the  Gothic  camp  of  its  supply  of  water.  The  Romans 
abstained  from  making  any  attack,  thinking  that 
hunger  and  thirst  would  soon  compel  the  Goths  either 
to  surrender  or  to  risk  a  battle  in  which  they  were  sure 
to  be  beaten. 

Stilicho  felt  so  sure  that  he  had  got  Alaric  in  a 
trap  that  he  allowed  his  own  soldiers  to  roam  about 
the  country  in  search  of  plunder  as  they  liked.  But 
he  did  not  know  what  a  clever  adversary  he  had  to 
deal  with.  To  the  amazement  of  the  Romans,  Alaric 
broke  through  their  lines,  marched  thirty  miles  away 
to  the  north  through  a  difficult  country,  and  had 
crossed  the  gulf  that  divides  the  Peloponnesus  from 
the  mainland  before  Stilicho  could  put  his  forces  in 
marching  order.  Travellers  who  are  acquainted  with 
the  ground  say  that  this  march  of  Alaric's  was  one  of 
tie  most  wonderful  feats  of  the  kind  on  record.  The 
Roman  general  was  making  preparations  for  pursuit 
when  he  received  information  that  the  ministers  of 
Arcadius  had  made  a  treaty  with  Alaric,  who  was  then 
in  possession  of  the  province  of  Epirus.  Stilicho 
therefore  returned  to  Italy  without  having  effected 
anything  by  his  expedition. 

Alaric  had  driven  a  hard  bargain  with  the  court  of 


Constantinople.  He  was  made  military  governor  of 
Eastern  Illyricum — that  is  to  say,  of  nearly  all  the 
European  portion  of  the  eastern  empire.  The  chief 
use  that  he  made  of  this  command  was  to  set  the 
Government  factories  to  work  at  making  weapons  and 
armour  for  his  own  soldiers  ;  and  the  ministers  of 
Arcadius  could,  of  course,  do  nothing  to  prevent  him. 
He  remained  quiet  for  three  years,  arming  and  drilling 
his  followers,  and  waiting  for  the  opportunity  to  make 
a  bold  stroke  for  a  wider  and  more  secure  dominion. 
In  the  autumn  of  the  year  400,  knowing  that 
Stilicho  was  absent  on  a  campaign  in  Gaul,  Alaric 
entered  Italy.  For  about  a  year  and  a  half  the  Goths 
ranged  almost  unresisted  over  the  northern  part  of  the 
peninsula.  The  emperor,  whose  court  was  then  at 
Milan,  made  preparations  for  taking  refuge  in  Gaul  ; 
and  the  walls  of  Rome  were  hurriedly  repaired  in 
expectation  of  an  attack.  On  the  Easter  Sunday  of 
the  year  402  (March  19th),  the  camp  of  Alaric,  near 
Pollentia,  was  surprised  by  Stilicho,  who  rightly 
guessed  that  the  Goths  would  be  engaged  in  worship, 
and  would  not  imagine  their  Roman  fellow-Christians 
less  observant  of  the  sacred  day  than  themselves. 
Though  unprepared  for  battle,  the  barbarians  made  a 
desperate  stand,  but  at  last  they  were  beaten.  The 
poet  Claudian — the  only  true  poet  who  lived  in  that 
dark  age — in  the  poem  which  he  wrote  on  the  deeds 
of  his  patron  Stilicho,  tells  us  that  the  wife  of 
Alaric  was  one  of  the  captives  taken,  and  in  words 
which  remind  us  of  a  fine  passage  in  the  Song  of 
Deborah,  describes  how,  before  the  battle,  she  had 
exulted  in  the  prospect  of  adorning  herself  with  the 


jewels  of  Roman  matrons  and  being  served  by  Roman 
captive  maidens. 

But  although  Stilicho  was  victorious  at  Pollentia, 
and  obtained  a  large  quantity  of  plunder  and  recovered 
many  thousands  of  Roman  prisoners,  the  Gothic  loss 
of  men  does  not  seem  to  have  been  very  great  Alaric 
was  able  to  retreat  in  good  order,  and  he  soon  after 
crossed  the  Po  with  the  intention  of  marching  against 
Rome.  However,  his  troops  began  to  desert  in  large 
numbers,  and  he  had  to  change  his  purpose.  In  the 
first  place  he  thought  of  invading  Gaul,  but  Stilicho 
overtook  him  and  defeated  him  heavily  at  Verona. 
Alaric  himself  narrowly  escaped  capture  by  the  swift- 
ness of  his  horse.  Stilicho,  however,  was  not  very 
anxious  for  the  destruction  of  Alaric,  as  he  thought 
he  might  some  day  find  him  a  convenient  tool  in  his 
quarrels  with  the  ministers  of  Arcadius.  So  he  offered 
Alaric  a  handsome  bribe  to  go  away  from  Italy. 
The  king  was  unwilling  to  agree,  but  the  chiefs  who 
commanded  under  him  would  not  allow  him  to  refuse. 
Finally  Alaric  accepted  the  money,  and  withdrew  to 
^mona  in  Illyria. 

The  departure  of  the  Visigoths  was  hailed  with 
great  joy  throughout  Italy,  and  Honorius  and  Stilicho 
celebrated  (in  the  year  404)  a  triumph  in  honour  of 
their  "  victory."  An  arch  which  was  erected  for  the 
occasion  bore  an  inscription  proclaiming  that  "  the 
Gothic  nation  had  been  subdued,  never  to  rise  again." 
Six  years  later  Alaric  and  his  Goths  had  an  oppor- 
tunity of  reading  these  boastful  words  as  they  rode 
through  the  streets  of  the  conquered  capital.  After  a 
stay  of  a  few  months  in  Rome,  Honorius  took  up  his 


residence  in  Ravenna,  a  city  which  for  centuries  after- 
wards continued  to  be  the  favourite  abode  of  the 
sovereigns  of  Italy. 

Of  Alaric  we  hear  little  more  for  four  years,  but 
during  this  interval  an  important  event  occurred 
which  belongs  to  the  story  of  the  Goths,  though  it  is 
not  easy  to  understand  the  circumstances  which  gave 
rise  to  it.  In  the  year  406,  Italy  was  suddenly  over- 
run by  a  vast  multitude  composed  of  Vandals,  Sueves, 
Burgunds,  Alans,  and  Goths,  under  the  command  of 
a  king  named  Radagais.  To  what  nation  this  king 
belonged  is  not  certain,  but  it  seems  likely  that  he  was 
an  Ostrogoth  from  the  region  of  the  Black  Sea,  who 
had  headed  a  tribe  of  his  countrymen  in  a  revolt 
against  the  Huns.  The  invading  host  is  said  to  have 
consisted  of  two  hundred  thousand  warriors,  who 
were  accompanied  by  their  wives  and  families.  These 
barbarians  were  heathens,  and  their  manners  were  so 
fierce  and  cruel  that  the  invasion  excited  far  more 
terror  than  did  that  of  Alaric.  It  was  commonly 
affirmed  that  Radagais  had  made  a  vow  to  burn  the 
imperial  city,  and  to  sacrifice  the  Roman  senators  to 
his  gods. 

Stilicho  found  it  hard  work  to  collect  an  army 
capable  of  opposing  this  savage  horde,  and  Radagais 
had  got  as  far  as  Florence  before  any  resistance  was 
offered  to  him.  But  while  he  was  besieging  that  city, 
the  Roman  general  came  upon  him,  and  by  surround- 
ing his  army  with  earthworks,  compelled  him  to 
surrender.  The  barbarian  king  was  beheaded,  and 
those  of  the  captives  whose  lives  were  spared  were 
sold  into  slavery. 


After  this  interlude,  the  second  act  of  the  drama  of 
Alaric's  life  begins  in  the  year  408.  Stilicho,  who 
had  always  had  an  idea  that  the  Visigoths  might 
some  time  be  useful  for  his  cherished  purpose  of 
humbling  the  eastern  empire,  had  succeeded  in  per- 
suading Alaric  to  enter  the  service  of  Honorius,  and 
to  undertake  a  plan  for  uniting  all  the  Illyrian 
provinces  under  the  dominion  of  the  emperor  of 
the  West.  Before  the  scheme  had  been  completely 
executed,  Stilicho  changed  his  mind,  and  thought 
that  it  had  better  be  put  off  till  a  more  convenient 
time.  Alaric  now  made  his  claim  for  the  promised 
reward  of  his  services,  and  Stilicho  presented  his 
demands  before  the  Roman  senate  in  a  long  speech, 
in  which  he  praised  Alaric  as  a  faithful  and  valuable 
ally,  and  showed  how  dangerous  it  would  be  to  refuse 
what  he  asked  for.  He  also  told  the  senate  that  the 
Gothic  king  had  offered  his  services  against  the 
usurper  Constantine,  a  private  soldier  whom  the 
army  had  made  emperor  in  Gaul,  and  whom  the 
forces  at  the  command  of  Honorius  were  quite  un- 
able to  subdue. 

The  senators  were  very  angry  when  they  were 
asked  to  agree  to  the  payment  of  ''  tribute,"  as  they 
called  it,  to  a  barbarian  king.  Some  of  them  talked 
very  grandly  about  letting  their  houses  be  burned  over 
their  heads  rather  than  consent  to  such  a  disgraceful 
surrender.  But  Stilicho  was  still  powerful,  and  after 
a  long  and  fierce  discussion  the  opposition  cooled 
down.  The  grant — four  thousand  pounds'  weight  of 
silver — was  voted  with  only  one  dissentient,  Lam- 
padius,  who  walked  out  of  the  senate  house,  telling 


his  colleagues  that  what  they  had  made  was  not  a 
treaty  of  peace,  but  a  contract  of  slavery. 

The  contract,  however,  was  never  fulfilled.  Stilicho's 
rivals  and  enemies  managed  to  get  the  emperor  on 
their  side,  and  in  August,  408,  the  great  general,  the 
only  able  servant  Honorius  ever  had,  was  murdered 
by  the  order  of  his  ungrateful  master.  After  Stilicho 
was  dead,  the  Romans  did  not  trouble  themselves  any 
more  about  the  treaty.  Alaric's  repeated  demands  for 
its  fulfilment  received  no  answer,  and  at  last  he  led 
his  armies  into  the  north  of  Italy. 

The  ministers  of  Honorius  now  did  the  most  unwise 
thing  that  they  possibly  could  have  done.  They  dis- 
missed the  Gothic  and  other  barbarian  officers  from 
their  commands,  and  passed  a  law  that  no  Arians  or 
heathens  were  in  future  to  be  allowed  to  enter  the 
imperial  service.  The  barbarian  troops,  who  were 
most  of  them  Arians,  and  had  been  devoted  to 
Stilicho,  were  of  course  thrown  into  great  excite- 
ment by  the  proofs  of  the  ill-will  of  the  government, 
but  did  not  at  first  venture  to  rebel,  fearing  that  the 
Romans  might  revenge  themselves  upon  their  families. 
However,  the  mob  of  the  Italian  cities,  having  got  to 
know  that  heretics  and  foreigners  were  now  out  of 
favour,  rose  and  murdered  the  innocent  wives  and 
children  of  the  barbarian  soldiers,  and  looted  their 
property.  The  result  was  that  thirty  thousand  men, 
inflamed  with  the  bitterest  hatred,  at  once  deserted 
from  the  Roman  army  and  joined  that  of  Alaric. 

The  march  of  Alaric  over  the  north  of  Italy  was 
like  a  triumphal  procession.  Without  meeting  any 
opposition,  he  plundered  city  after  city  till  he  came 


to  the  neighbourhood  of  Ravenna.  Perhaps  his  first 
intention  was  to  besiege  the  emperor  in  his  own  city  ; 
but  Ravenna  was  protected  by  marshes,  and  Alaric 
did  not  think  it  worth  while  to  attempt  to  capture  it. 
He  had  a  greater  prize  in  view.  He  marched  across 
the  peninsula,  and  in  the  beginning  of  the  year  409 
his  army  encamped  round  the  walls  of  Rome.  Alaric 
was  far  too  sagacious  to  sacrifice  the  lives  of  his 
soldiers  by  trying  to  carry  the  city  by  assault.  He 
knew  that  a  population  of  a  million  people  would 
soon  be  starved  into  surrender,  and  so  he  contented 
himself  with  intercepting  all  the  supplies  of  provi- 
sions, and  waited  quietly  for  the  result.  As  soon  as 
the  Romans  began  to  feel  the  distress  caused  by  the 
siege,  they  threw  the  blame  of  their  misfortunes  on 
Stilicho's  widow,  who,  they  said,  had  sent  for  Alaric 
to  revenge  her  husband's  death ;  and  without  any 
pretence  of  a  trial  the  senate  ordered  her  to  be 
strangled.  The  scarcity  of  food  grew  greater  from 
day  to  day.  But  though  many  thousands  of  the 
people  died  of  hunger,  so  that  at  last  there  was  no 
room  within  the  walls  to  bury  them,  the  senate  long 
refused  to  think  of  submission.  Their  hopes  were 
kept  up  by  messengers  from  Ravenna,  who  succeeded 
in  entering  the  city  in  spite  of  the  Goths,  and  brought 
them  word  that  the  emperor  would  soon  send  an 
army  to  raise  the  siege. 

At  last  it  was  felt  that  the  famine  could  be  borne 
no  longer,  and  two  envoys  of  noble  rank  were  sent  to 
Alaric's  camp  to  offer  conditions  of  surrender.  They 
began  by  trying  to  show  Alaric  that  it  would  be 
prudent    in  him  to   grant   the    Romans   honourable 

kOME   PUT   TO   RANSOM,  93 

terms,  for  if  he  refused  them  the  whole  population 
would  rise  as  one  man,  prepared  to  die  rather  than 
yield.  When  they  were  boasting  of  the  enormous 
numbers  of  their  people,  Alaric  said,  "  The  thicker 
the  grass,  the  easier  it  is  to  mow  ! "  and  burst  into  a 
loud  laugh  at  the  idea  of  the  townspeople  of  Rome 
attempting  to  fight.  The  ambassadors  were  a  good 
deal  abashed  by  this  reception  of  their  arguments, 
and  asked  what  were  the  terms  which  he  would  offer. 
He  replied  that  he  would  spare  the  city  on  condition 
of  receiving  all  the  gold  and  silver  within  the  walls, 
and  all  the  foreign  slaves.  "  What  should  we  have 
left,  then  ? "  said  one  of  the  envoys  in  amazement. 
"  Your  lives !  "  replied  the  conqueror.  The  ambas- 
sadors had  not  a  word  more  to  say,  and  returned  to 
tell  their  fellow  citizens  that  there  was  no  hope  of 
mercy  from  the  cruel  Visigoth. 

But  Alaric  only  wished  to  give  the  Romans  a 
fright  :  he  did  not  really  mean  to  insist  on  stripping 
them  of  everything  they  possessed.  He  succeeded, 
however,  in  making  them  believe  he  was  thoroughly 
in  earnest,  and  they  were  very  glad  when,  after  some 
further  negotiation,  he  consented  to  fix  a  definite 
price  for  their  ransom.  The  contract  was  a  very 
curious  one.  ALaric  was  to  receive  five  thousand 
pounds  weight  of  gold,  thirty  thousand  pounds  of 
silver,  four  thousand  silken  robes,  four  thousand 
robes  dyed  with  the  costly  Tyrian  purple,  and  four 
thousand  pounds  of  pepper.  It  seems  odd  to  read  of 
pepper  being  mentioned  as  an  article  of  costly  luxury, 
but  it  had  then  to  be  brought  from  India  at  great  ex- 
pense, and  was  used  very  freely  in  Roman  cookery. 



the  delights  of  which  the  Goths  had  learned  to  ap- 

The  price  was  paid,  and  Alaric  moved  his  vast 
army  away  into  Tuscany.  He  was  careful  to  restrain 
his  followers  from  committing  any  acts  of  rapine,  and 
those  Goths  who  were  guilty  of  insulting  Roman 
citizens  were  severely  punished.  The  Gothic  host 
was  increased  in  numbers  by  forty  thousand  slaves, 
who  had  run  away  from  their  Roman  masters,  and 
by  a  large  body  of  Goths  whom  Atawulf,  the  brother- 
in-law  of  Alaric,  brought  from  the  banks  of  the 

Alaric  had  still  no  thought  of  upsetting  the  western 
empire.  What  he  and  his  Visigoths  wanted  was  to 
found  a  kingdom  of  their  own  under  Roman  protec- 
tion. So  from  his  camp  in  Tuscany  he  opened 
negotiations  with  the  court  at  Ravenna,  asking  that 
he  should  be  appointed  chief  of  the  Roman  armies 
and  should  be  allowed  to  settle  with  his  followers  in 
what  are  now  the  dominions  of  Austria.  One  of  the 
ministers  of  Honorius,  named  Jovius,  had  actually 
agreed  to  grant  him  his  demands  ;  but  the  emperor 
and  his  courtiers,  who  were  themselves  out  of  danger 
at  Ravenna,  refused  to  confirm  the  treaty.  Alaric 
was  terribly  enraged,  and  he  proceeded  to  capture 
the  harbour  city  at  the  mouth  of  the  Tiber,  where  the 
Roman  stores  of  corn  were  kept,  and  by  the  threat 
of  a  second  famine  forced  the  people  of  Rome  to 

Obeying  the  orders  of  their  conqueror,  the  Roman 
senate  declared  that  Honorius  was  deposed,  and 
appointed  Attalus,  the  prefect  of  the  city,  emperor 


in  his  stead.  Attalus  of  course  agreed  to  give  Alaric 
the  military  rank  and  the  dominions  that  he  asked  for. 
Most  of  the  ItaHan  cities,  tired  of  Honorius,  gladly- 
acknowledged  the  rival  emperor,  and  when,  accom- 
panied by  the  army  of  Alaric,  Attalus  approached 
the  gates  of  Ravenna,  the  ministers  of  Honorius 
offered,  in  his  name,  to  agree  to  a  division  of  the 
empire.  Attalus  refused  this  proposal,  and  demanded 
that  Honorius  should  at  once  abdicate  and  retire  into 

Honorius  was  already  making  preparations  for  a 
secret  escape  to  Constantinople,  when  a  quarrel 
broke  out  between  Alaric  and  Attalus,  who  was 
scheming  to  make  himself  independent  of  the 
Gothic  king.  Alaric  very  quickly  put  an  end  to 
the  plans  of  his  puppet  emperor.  A  great  assembly 
of  Goths  and  Romans  was  called  together  in  a  plain 
near  Rimini,  at  which  Attalus  was  made  to  appear 
dressed  in  the  purple  robe,  and  wearing  the  diadem  ; 
these  signs  of  sovereignty  were  then  solemnly  taken 
away  from  him,  and  it  was  prclaimed  that  he  was  hence- 
forth reduced  to  the  rank  of  a  private  citizen.  He 
seems  to  have  taken  his  degradation  very  contentedly, 
and  remained  attached  to  the  household  of  Alaric  and 
his  successor,  who  valued  him  as  a  pleasant  companion 
and  a  skilful  musician.  How  he  afterwards  again 
meddled  in  State  affairs,  unfortunately  for  himself,  we 
shall  have  to  mention  in  a  succeeding  chapter. 

Alaric  now  sent  the  diadem  and  the  purple  robe  of 
the  deposed  emperor  to  Honorius,  as  a  token  of  his 
wish  for  peace  and  friendship.  He  renewed  his  pro- 
posals   for   a   treaty,   on  the  same  terms  as  he  had 


previously  offered,  and  marching  to  within  three 
miles  of  the  gates  of  Ravenna,  encamped  there  to 
await  an  answer.  But  a  body  of  four  thousand 
veteran  soldiers,  sent  from  Constantinople,  having 
entered  the  city,  the  ministers  of  Honorius  had  re- 
covered from  their  panic.  The  Gothic  camp  was 
attacked  unexpectedly  by  a  small  company  of  men 
under  Sarus^  the  commander  of  the  Gothic  troops 
in  the  Roman  service  ;  and  a  herald  was  sent  to 
proclaim  to  the  Goths  that  Alaric  was  the  perpetual 
enemy  of  the  empire. 

Instead  of  making  an  attack  on  the  strongly  for- 
tified Ravenna,  Alaric  crossed  the  peninsula  and 
laid  siege,  for  the  third  time,  to  Rome.  By  a  mid- 
night attack  —  on  the  24th  of  August,  410  —  the 
Salarian  gate  was  forced  (or  opened  by  treachery 
it  is  not  certain  which) ;  and  the  great  city,  for  the 
first  time  since  its  capture  by  the  Gauls,  eight  hun- 
dred years  before,  was  given  up  to  the  plunder  of  a 
foreign  foe. 

We  may  be  sure  that  many  dreadful  things  were 
done  ■  during  the  six  days  that  the  Gothic  army  re- 
mained in  Rome.  And  yet,  terrible  as  the  fate  of 
the  city  undoubtedly  was,  it  was  far  less  terrible  than 
the  Romans  had  feared — far  less  terrible  than  the  fate 
which  Rome  underwent  more  than  once  afterwards  at 
the  hands  of  conquerors  who  called  themselves  civilized. 
Alaric  remembered  that  he  was  a  Christian,  and  he 
tried  to  use  his  victory  mercifully.  He  told  his 
soldiers  that  the  plunder  of  the  city  was  theirs,  but 
that  no  man  was  to  be  killed  who  was  not  in  arms  ; 
even  of  the  soldiers,  all  were  to  be  spared  who  took 


refuse  in  the  churches  of  the  two  great  apostles,  St. 
Peter  and  St.  Paul  ;  and  all  the  churches  and  their 
property  were  to  be  held  sacred.  But,  though  Alaric's 
commands  were  to  some  extent  obeyed,  so  that  some 
of  the  Roman  writers  speak  with  wonder  of  the  modera- 
tion of  the  Goths,  it  was  impossible  to  restrain  the 
furious  passions  of  such  a  vast  multitude  of  conquerors. 
The  streets,  we  read,  were  heaped  with  dead  ;  men, 
and  women  too,  were  cruelly  tortured  to  make  them 
disclose  the  places  where  their  wealth  was  hidden  ; 
and  many  thousands  of  people  were  sold  into  slavery. 
We  cannot  wonder  at  the  thrill  of  horror  which  this 
event  caused  throughout  Europe,  nor  that  the  Chris- 
tians everywhere,  when  they  heard  the  tale,  thought 
that  the  end  of  the  world  was  at  hand. 

Alaric  now  felt  that  it  was  useless  any  more  to  think 
of  peace  with  the  empire.  Nothing  remained  but  to 
establish  himself  as  absolute  master  of  Italy.  But  to 
do  this,  it  was  necessary  that  he  should  secure  com- 
mand of  the  corn  supplies  which  came  from  the 
African  ports  ;  and  when  he  marched  from  Rome,  it 
was  with  the  design  of  conquering  the  African 

The  Goths  had  reached  the  southern  extremity  of 
Italy,  and  had  made  one  attempt  to  cross  over  into 
Sicily,  which  was  defeated  by  the  destruction  of  their 
fleet  in  a  storm,  when  their  king  was  taken  sick,  and 
died,  at  the  age  of  only  thirty-five  years. 

With  bitter  lamentation  the  Goths  bewailed  the 
death  of  their  young  hero.  They  knew  that  he  had 
left  behind  him  no  successor  who  could  carry  out  his 
mighty  plans,  and  that  the   dominion  of  Italy  could 


never  be  theirs.  But,  while  they  looked  forward 
forsaking  the  country,  they  resolved  to  make  sure 
that  the  sepulchre  of  their  beloved  king  should  not 
be  violated  by  the  hands  of  their  enemies.  They 
carried  his  dead  body  to  the  banks  of  the  little  river 
Busento,  which  flows  by  the  town  of  Cosenza.  They 
compelled  their  multitude  of  prisoners  to  dig  out  a 
new  channel  for  the  river,  and  in  its  deserted  bed 
they  made  a  grave  for  their  king,  burying  with  him 
a  vast  treasure  of  gold  and  silver,  costly  garments, 
and  weapons  of  war.  Then  the  river  was  turned 
back  into  its  former  channel,  and  the  captives  who 
had  done  the  work  were  put  to  death,  so  that  no 
Roman  should  ever  know  the  spot  where  rested  the 
remains  of  Alaric,  king  of  the  Visigoths. 



We  must  here  for  a  moment  interrupt  our  narrative 
to  glance  at  certain  events  that  had  been  taking  place 
in  the  eastern  empire  while  Alaric  was  fighting 
in  Greece  and  Italy.  The  colony  of  Ostrogoths, 
whom  Theodosius  had  planted  in  Asia  Minor  had, 
in  the  year  399,  rebelled  under  a  leader  named  Tri- 
bigild  ;  the  imperial  general  Gaina,  himself  a  Goth, 
who  was  sent  to  subdue  the  rebels,  ended  by  joining 
them,  and  becoming  their  chief.  He  crossed  with  his 
followers  into  Thrace,  and  excited  great  alarm  at 
Constantinople,  but  was  finally  defeated,  in  the 
beginning  of  401,  by  the  king  of  the  Huns,  who 
sent  the  head  of  Gaina  to  the  emperor  as  a  sign  of 
his  friendly  intentions.  But  all  this  has  little  bearing 
on  the  general  history  of  the  Goths,  and  after  this 
brief  digression  we  may  continue  the  story  of  Alaric's 
followers,  whom  we  left  lamenting  the  loss  of  their 
beloved  king,  beside  the  river  which  flowed  over  his 

The  new  king  whom  the  people  chose  in  Alaric's 
place  was  Atawulf,  Alaric's  wife's  brother,  who  has 
been  mentioned  in  a  preceding  chapter.  He  made 
no  attempt  to  carry  out  Alaric's  purpose  of  invading 


Africa,  and  he  does  not  seem  to  have  had  any  clearly- 
defined  plans  of  his  own,  for  he  spent  two  years  in 
moving  his  army  from  the  south  of  Italy  to  the  north- 
west. It  is  said  that  a  few  years  later  he  confessed 
that  he  had  once  had  the  intention  to  overthrow  the 
Roman  Empire  and  establish  a  Gothic  Empire  in  its 
place,  but  that  he  had  become  convinced  that  the 
Goths  were  too  rude  and  lawless  to  be  capable  of  ruling 
the  world,  and  so  since  then  it  had  been  his  aim  to  do 
all  he  could  to  strengthen  the  Roman  power.  But 
this  change  in  his  views  must  have  taken  place 
before  Alaric's  death,  for  it  is  quite  plain  that  he 
did  not  try  to  conquer  Italy.  Instead  of  that,  he 
endeavoured  to  persuade  the  emperor  to  receive  him 
as  an  ally.  He  had  in  his  hands  one  argument  which 
he  thought  would  be  powerful  in  inducing  Honorius 
to  consent  to  his  demands.  The  emperor's  favourite 
sister,  Galla  Placidia,  was  a  prisoner  in  his  camp, 
having  been  captured  when  the  Goths  had  possession 
of  Rome  ;  and  Atawulf  offered  to  send  her  home  if 
Honorius  would  make  such  a  treaty  as  he  wanted. 
But  probably  the  terms  he  asked  were  too  hard,  and 
the  great  general  Constantius,  who  now  ruled  over 
the  weak  emperor,  refused  to  consent  to  them.  It  is 
thought,  however,  that  when  Atawulf,  in  the  beginning 
of  the  year  412,  left  Italy,  he  had  got  a  commission 
from  Honorius  to  go  and  fight  with  Jovinus,  who  had 
made  himself  emperor  in  Gaul. 

But  when  the  Visigoths  had  entered  Gaul  Atawulf 
allowed  Attains  to  persuade  him  that  he  had  better 
try  to  make  a  friendly  arrangement  with  Jovinus  to 
divide  the  country  with  him.     But  Jovinus  would  not 


listen  to  the  proposal,  and  so  Atawulf  returned  to  his 
original  plan.  The  Goth  Sarus,  who  was  Atawulfs 
bitter  enemy,  had  rebelled  against  Honorius,  and  was 
on  his  way  to  Gaul  to  support  the  usurper.  Atawulf 
attacked  him,  and  gained  a  complete  victory,  in 
which  Sarus  was  killed. 

Honorius  now  agreed  to  a  treaty,  which  provided 
that  Atawulf  should  receive  a  supply  of  corn  for  his 
army,  and  in  return  should  set  Placidia  free,  and  send 
the  heads  of  Jovinus  and  his  brother  Sebastian  to  the 
emperor  at  Ravenna.  The  latter  part  of  the  bargain 
was  fulfilled  by  Atawulf,  but  the  corn  did  not  come, 
and  he  said  he  would  keep  Placidia  until  it  was  re- 
ceived. He  went  on  fighting  for  his  own  hand 
against  both  the  imperial  forces  and  the  remnants  of 
the  rebel  army,  and  before  the  end  of  413  was  master 
of  most  of  Southern  Gaul,  including  the  cities  of 
Valence,  Toulouse,  Bordeaux,  and  Narbonne. 

In  Narbonne  it  was  that  he  took  up  his  abode,  and 
there,  in  January,  414,  the  princess  Placidia  became 
his  wife.  The  wedding  was  celebrated  in  the  house 
of  one  of  the  wealthiest  citizens  of  Narbonne,  and 
Atawulf  took  care  that  it  should  be  conducted  in 
every  respect  according  to  Roman  customs.  The 
bridegroom  was  attired  in  Roman  dress,  and  at  the 
banquet  he  took  the  second  seat,  giving  the  place  of 
honour  to  the  princess.  The  presents  to  the  bride 
included  a  hundred  bowls  filled  with  precious  stones 
and  gold  pieces,  which  were  laid  before  her  by  fifty 
noble  youths  dressed  in  splendid  silken  robes.  The 
wedding  chorus — an  essential  part  of  the  Roman 
marriage  ceremony  among  people  of  rank — was  led 


by  Attalus,  who  was  famous  for  his  skill  in 

Some  of  the  Romans  who  heard  of  this  marriage 
thought  it  was  the  event  that  was  referred  to  in  the 
words  of  the  prophet  Daniel  :  "  The  king's  daughter 
of  the  south  shall  come  to  the  king  of  the  north  to 
make  an  agreement ;  but  she  shall  not  retain  the 
power  of  her  arm,  neither  shall  he  stand,  nor  his  arm, 
but  she  shall  be  given  up."  The  rest  of  the  verse 
could  not  well  have  been  made  to  suit  the  occasion, 
but  the  prophecy,  as  far  as  this  quotation  goes,  was 
admirably  fulfilled  in  the  events  which  followed. 

No  doubt  Atawulf  thought  that  the  Romans  of  Gaul, 
who  he  knew  would  never  own  a  Gothic  king  as  their 
emperor,  might  be  persuaded  to  submit  to  the  rule  of 
a  daughter  of  Theodosius  ;  and  perhaps  he  thought 
also  that  Honorius  would  now  himself  be  willing  to 
acknowledge  him,  if  not  as  sovereign  of  Gaul,  at  any 
rate  as  his  own  substitute  and  commander-in-chief 

But  he  found  himself  mistaken.  The  Romans  only 
thought  that  Placidia  had  disgraced  herself  by  marry- 
ing a  barbarian  ;  and  as  for  Honorius,  he  was  still 
ruled  by  Constantius,  whom  this  marriage  made  all 
the  more  bitter  against  Atawulf,  for  he  had  wanted 
Placidia  to  become  his  own  wife. 

As  a  last  resort  Atawulf  caused  poor  Attalus  to  be 
proclaimed  emperor  once  more.  But  Constantius  came 
with  a  powerful  army,  and  as  the  Roman  fleets  had 
cut  off  the  supply  of  corn  from  the  Gaulish  ports,  the 
Goths  were  in  danger  of  being  starved  out.  When 
Constantius  advanced  they  fled  from  Narbonne,  and 


after  plundering  the  cities  and  country  of  the  south 
of  Gaul,  crossed  the  Pyrenees  into  Spain.  The  unfor- 
tunate Attains  was  left  to  shift  for  himself  He  tried 
to  escape  by  sea,  but  was  captured  by  the  Roman 
fleet,  and  was  sent  to  Ravenna.  His  life  was  spared, 
but  two  of  his  fingers  were  cut  off,  and  he  was 
banished  to  one  of  the  Lipari  islands,  where  he  ended 
his  days. 

Soon  after  arriving  in  Spain  Atawulf  captured 
Barcelona  from  the  Vandals,  and  made  that  city  his 
royal  residence.  Here  a  son  was  born  to  him,  who 
received  the  name  of  Theodosius,  and  who,  his  parents 
hoped,  would  some  day  wear  the  diadem  of  his  illus- 
trious grandfather.  But  the  child  soon  died,  and  was 
buried  with  great  pomp  in  a  coffin  of  solid  silver. 

In  August,  415,  Atawulf  was  murdered  in  his 
palace  by  Eberwulf,  a  former  follower  of  Sarus,  whom 
he  had  taken  into  his  own  service.  Eberwulf,  perhaps, 
meant  treachery  from  the  beginning,  but  Atawulf  had 
irritated  him  by  ridiculing  his  small  stature.  With 
his  last  breath  the  king  charged  his  brother  to 
make  peace  with  the  empire,  and  to  send  Placidia 
home  to  Ravenna. 

But  the  brother  who  received  this  counsel  was  not 
allowed  to  succeed  to  the  throne.  The  people  blamed 
Atawulf  for  favouring  the  Romans  too  much,  and 
they  chose  as  their  king  a  brother  of  Sarus,  named 
Sigeric.  His  first  act  was  to  murder  the  six  children 
of  Atawulf  s  former  wife,  and  he  treated  Placidia  with 
the  most  shameful  cruelty,  making  her  walk  twelve 
miles  by  the  side  of  his  horse.  But  in  seven  days  he 
too  was  assassinated,  and  Wallia  [Walya],  a  Balthing, 

{From  an  ivory  diptych  at  Monza.) 


though  not  related  to  Atawulf,  was  chosen  in  his 

WalHa  treated  Placidia  kindly,  but  began  by  acting 
as  the  enemy  of  the  Romans.  Fighting  both  against 
the  imperial  forces  and  the  Vandals  and  Sueves,  he 
soon  conquered  the  whole  of  Spain.  But  he  was 
reduced  to  straits  by  a  great  famine,  and  like  Alaric 
in  a  similar  position,  he  made  an  attempt  to  cross 
over  into  Africa,  to  make  the  corn  supplies  of  that 
province  his  own.  Just  as  in  Alaric's  case,  the  at- 
tempt failed  through  storms,  and  Wallia  had  no  other 
resource  than  to  make  his  peace  with  the  Romans. 
Honorius,  or  rather  Constantius,  was  glad  to  accept 
his  offer  to  send  Placidia  home,  on  condition  of  re- 
ceiving 600,000  bushels  of  wheat,  and  being  allowed 
to  conquer  Spain  under  the  authority  of  the  empire. 

What  became  of  Atawulf's  widowed  queen  is  not 
exactly  part  of  the  story  of  the  Goths,  but  you  may 
like  to  know  how  her  strange  history  ended.  When 
she  got  back  to  Ravenna  she  was  compelled  to  marry 
Constantius,  whom  she  disliked.  Her  husband  was 
afterwards  made  joint  emperor  with  Honorius,  but 
only  lived  to  possess  the  throne  for  seven  months. 
As  Honorius  died  childless  in  423,  he  was  succeeded 
by  the  infant  son  of  Constantius  and  Placidia,  Valen- 
tinian  HI.,  in  whose  name  the  empire  was  governed 
by  the  empress-mother  until  her  death  in  450.  Among 
the  famous  monuments  of  Ravenna  is  the  mausoleum 
which  covers  the  remains  of  Placidia,  together  with 
those  of  Honorius,  Constantius,  and  Valentinian. 




King  Wallia  was  now  no  longer  a  rebel,  but  the 
recognized  champion  of  the  Roman  emperor  in  Spain. 
With  a  well-provisioned  army,  and  the  support, 
instead  of  the  opposition,  of  all  the  barbarians  who 
wished  to  be  loyal  subjects  of  the  empire,  he  soon 
succeeded  in  conquering  the  whole  of  the  peninsula 
except  the  mountain  region  of  the  north-west,  and  in 
the  year  417  he  sent  to  Honorius  two  captive  Vandal 
kings  who  formed  part  of  the  procession  in  the 
triumph  which  the  emperor  celebrated  at  Rome. 

For  some  reason  or  other  it  did  not  suit  Constantius's 
purpose  to  allow  the  Visigoths  to  settle  down  in  Spain, 
and  he  proposed  that  instead  of  that  country  they 
sliould  have  the  province  known  as  the  second  Aqui- 
tania.  Wallia  must  surely  have  been  overjoyed  when 
he  received  this  splendid  offer.  The  province,  which 
included  Bordeaux,  Agen,  Angouleme,  Poitiers,  and 
many  other  cities,  was  one  of  the  most  beautiful  and 
fertile  in  all  the  empire.  "  The  Pearl  of  Gaul,"  "  \;he 
Earthly  Paradise,"  "  the  Queen  of  Provinces,"  are 
amongst  the  titles  which  it  received  from  poets  and 
orators  of  that  time.  To  receive  the  undisputed 
possession  of  such  a  "  land  o[  corn  and  wine  and  oil," 


in  exchange  for  a  country  exhausted  as  Spain  was  by- 
many  years  of  barbarian  ravage,  where  he  would  have 
had  to  maintain  his  dominion  by  continual  conflict 
with  powerful  enemies,  was  a  piece  of  good  fortune 
which  Wallia  could  scarcely  have  dreamed  of.  And 
the  concession  included  also  some  important  cities 
beyond  the  Aquitanian  frontier,  chief  amongst  them 
being  Toulouse,  which  became  the  residence  of  the 
kings  of  the  Visigoths,  and  the  capital  of  their 

It  was  at  the  end  of  the  year  418  that  the  Goths 
marched  out  of  Spain  to  occupy  their  new  kingdom  ; 
and  in  the  following  year  Wallia  died.  He  left  no 
son  to  succeed  him,  though  he  had  a  daughter  who 
became  the  mother  of  Rikimer,  a  man  famous  in  the 
history  of  the  Roman  Empire. 

The  Visigoths  chose  as  his  successor,  Theoderic, 
who  seems  to  have  been  a  Balthing,  though  not  re- 
lated either  to  Wallia  or  to  Atawulf.  You  must  be 
careful  not  to  confound  this  Visigoth  Theoderic,  or 
his  son  of  the  same  name,  with  the  great  Theoderic 
the  Amaling,  who  began  to  reign  over  the  Ostrogoths 
about  the  year  475.  Theoderic  the  Visigoth  was  not 
such  a  great  man  as  his  namesake,  but  he  must  have 
been  both  a  brave  soldier  and  an  able  ruler,  or  he 
could  not  have  kept  the  affection  and  obedience  of 
his  people  for  thirty-two  years.  His  great  object  was 
to  extend  his  kingdom,  which  was  hemmed  in  on  the 
north  by  the  Franks  (a  German  people  who  had  just 
been  allowed  to  settle  in  the  country  now  called 
France,  after  their  name) ;  and  on  the  west  by  another 
people  of  German  invaders,  the  Burgunds  ;  while  the 


Roman  Empire  still  kept  possession  of  some  rich 
cities,  such  as  Aries  and  Narbonne,  which  were 
temptingly  close  to  the  Gothic  boundary  on  the 

When  the  emperor  Honorius  died,  in  423,  Theo- 
deric  led  out  his  armies,  professedly  to  fight  for 
Placidia  and  her  infant  son  (Valentinian  III.)  against 
a  usurper  named  John  ;  but  his  real  object  was  to 
add  some  of  the  rich  Roman  cities  to  his  own  do- 
minions ;  as  very  soon  appeared,  for  when  John  died 
and  the  rebel  army  had  submitted,  he  did  not  lay 
down  his  arms,  but  captured  several  towns,  and 
began  to  besiege  the  great  city  of  Aries.  The 
famous  Roman  general  Aetius,  who  had  at  first  sup- 
ported the  usurper,  but  had  made  his  peace  with 
Placidia,  attacked  the  besieging  party,  and  defeated 
them,  taking  their  commander  Aunwulf  prisoner. 

For  many  years  the  relations  between  the  Goths 
and  the  Romans  were  very  unsettled,  treaties  being 
made  and  quickly  broken  whenever  it  suited  the 
convenience  of  either  side.  In  437  the  Goths  had 
been  trying  to  take  Narbonne,  and  the  Roman 
generals,  Aetius  and  Litorius,  resolved  to  put  them 
down  thoroughly.  Aetius  did  gain  a  great  victory, 
but  he  was  called  away  to  Italy,  and  Litorius  had 
not  the  skill  to  finish  the  work.  He  besieged  Theo- 
deric  in  his  capital  city,  Toulouse,  with  such  an  over- 
whelming force  that  the  Goths  thought  their  case  was 
hopeless,  and  sent  Orientius  the  bishop  of  Auch,  with 
many  other  bishops  and  clergy,  to  try  to  persuade 
the  Roman  general  to  grant  honourable  terms  of 
peace.     Litorius,  who  was  more  than  half  a  heathen, 

{From  an  ivory  diptych  at  Jlonza.) 


treated  the  messengers  with  contempt ;  and  so  Theo- 
deric  gave  the  order  to  prepare  for  battle.  Until  the 
conflict  began,  the  king  was  clothed  in  the  dress  of  a 
penitent,  and  spent  many  hours  in  prayer.  His 
soldiers,  inspired  by  their  king's  piety,  and  by  the 
thought  that  they  were  fighting  for  Christianity 
against  heathenism  (for  Litorius's  army  was  mostly 
composed  of  Huns),  made  a  furious  attack  upon  the 
camp  of  the  besiegers,  who  were  totally  defeated. 
Litorius  was  taken  prisoner,  and  had  to  walk  through 
the  streets  of  Toulouse  in  the  triumph  which  Theo- 
deric  celebrated  after  the  Roman  fashion.  The 
Christian  writers  tell  how  Litorius's  soothsayers  had 
promised  him  that  he  should  go  in  triumph  through 
the  city — a  promise  which,  like  many  of  those  given 
by  heathen  oracles  in  older  days,  was  fulfilled  in 
another  sense  than  that  in  which  it  was  understood. 

After  this  sudden  change  in  the  position  of  affairs, 
the  Romans  themselves  were  fain  to  sue  for  peace. 
Theoderic,  puffed  up  by  his  success,  at  first  refused  to 
come  to  any  terms  unless  the  Romans  would  leave 
him  in  undisturbed  possession  of  the  whole  of 
Southern  Gaul,  west  of  the  Rhone.  But  his  friend 
Avitus,  a  distinguished  Roman  senator,  of  whom  we 
shall  hear  again,  persuaded  him  to  renew  the  alliance, 
though  what  the   conditions   were  we  do  not  know. 

Theoderic,  however,  did  not  think  the  Roman 
treaty  was  likely  to  last,  and  determined  to  have  a 
second  string  to  his  bow.  In  order  to  secure  the 
friendship  of  the  Vandals,  he  gave  his  daughter  in 
marriage  to  the  son  of  their  king,  the  fierce  and  cruel 
Gaiseric,  who  had  lately  conquered  the  Roman  pro- 


vinces  of  Africa,  and  had  made  Carthage  the  capital 
of  his  kingdom.  The  marriage  had  a  frightful  sequel. 
Gaiseric  suspected  that  his  daughter-in-law  was 
plotting  to  poison  her  husband,  and  he  cut  off  her 
nose  and  ears,  and  sent  her  back  to  her  father. 

Of  course  it  was  now  impossible  to  think  any  more 
of  alliance  with  the  Vandals  ;  and  in  the  year  450  the 
Visigoths  and  the  Romans  were  drawn  more  closely 
together  by  the  approach  of  a  great  common  danger. 

The  Huns,  who  for  three-quarters  of  a  century  had 
been  occupying  the  old  seats  of  the  Goths  north  of 
the  Lower  Danube  and  the  Euxine,  had  under  their 
famous  king,  Attila,  moved  westward,  and  were 
threatening  to  over-run  both  Gaul  and  Italy.  The 
Hunnish  army  consisted,  it  is  said,  of  half  a  million 
men,  belonging  to  all  the  nations  whom  the  Huns 
had  subdued  on  their  march.  The  Ostrogoths  and 
Gepids,  and  many  other  Teutonic  tribes,  formed  part 
of  this  immense  host,  and  were  marching  to  fight 
against  their  brethren  in  language  and  race,  under  the 
command  of  an  Asiatic  savage.  In  the  face  of  such 
an  enemy,  Roman  and  Frank  and  Visigoth  felt  that 
they  must  forget  their  differences,  and  unite  for 
mutual  defence.  Attila  cunningly  tried  to  persuade 
first  one  and  then  another  of  these  three  nations  to 
take  his  part  against  the  rest.  But  they  saw  very 
well  that  unless  they  joined  to  oppose  his  progress, 
Attila  would  conquer  them  one  by  one.  Theoderic 
was,  indeed,  at  first  disposed  to  adopt  a  policy  that 
was  both  selfish  and  foolish,  namely,  that  of  remain- 
ing quietly  in  his  own  kingdom,  and  only  defending 
himself  when  he  was  attacked.     Aetius  had  arrived  at 


Aries  from  Italy,  at  the  head  of  a  small  army,  but  he 
had  no  force  sufficient  to  meet  Attila  without  the  aid 
of  the  Visigoths.  After  long  persuasion  from  Aetius 
and  Avitus,  Theoderic  was  made  to  see  the  necessity 
of  joining  in  the  defence  of  Christendom  against  the 
heathen  horde.  But  precious  time  had  been  wasted 
in  these  discussions,  and  before  any  resistance  could 
be  offered,  Attila  had  marched,  plundering  and  burn- 
ing towns  and  desolating  the  country,  through  the 
regions  since  known  by  the  famous  names  of  Lorraine 
and  Champagne,  and  had  begun  to  besiege  the 
important  city  of  Orleans. 

The  city  was  strongly  fortified  and  bravely  de- 
fended ;  but  after  a  struggle  of  some  days  the  gates 
were  forced,  and  the  vanguard  of  the  Huns  had 
passed  through,  when  (as  the  church  legend  tells  us 
in  language  borrowed  from  the  story  of  Elijah),  the 
messenger  whom  the  holy  bishop  Anianius  had  sent 
to  the  walls  to  search  the  horizon  beheld  at  last  "  a 
little  cloud  like  a  man's  hand,"  which  told  that  the 
saint's  prayers  were  answered,  and  that  the  army  of 
deliverance  was  approaching. 

As  soon  as  the  coming  of  Aetius  and  Theoderic 
was  known  to  Attila,  he  abandoned  the  neighbour- 
hood of  Orleans,  and  hastened  across  the  Seine,  to 
await  the  enemy  in  the  plains  of"  Champagne.  The 
great  battle — one  of  those  which  have  decided  the 
fate  of  Europe — was  fought  near  the  village  of 
Moirey,  a  few  miles  from  Tro3^es.^     It  began  with  an 

*  It  has  usually  been  called  the  battle  of  Chalons,  because  the  great 
plain  of  Champagne  received  its  ancient  name  from  the  nation  of  the 
Catalauni,  after  whom  Chalons  was  called. 



attack  by  the  Franks  upon  the  Gepids,  who  were  de- 
feated with  great  slaughter.  The  Alans,  who  occu- 
pied the  centre  of  the  allied  army,  were  routed  by 
the  Huns,  and  the  Roman  troops  of  Aetius  were 
thrown  into  confusion  ;  Theoderic  was  killed  by  a 
dart  from  the  hand  of  an  Ostrogoth  named  Andagis  ; 
but  the  bravery  of  the  Visigoths  carried  the  day, 
and  Attila  was  compelled  to  retire  to  his  camp,  having 
lost  a  hundred  and  sixty  thousand  men. 

Theoderic  was  buried  on  the  spot  where  he  fell,  in 
sight  of  the  vanquished  enemy,  with  all  the  marks  of 
honour  which  the  Goths  bestowed  on  their  royal  dead. 
His  son  Thorismund,  to  whose  valour  and  skill  the 
victory  was  chiefly  due,  was  chosen  by  the  army  to 
be  king  in  his  father's  stead. 

In  grim  despair  ("  like  a  wounded  lion,"  says  Jor- 
danes)  Attila  waited  for  the  attack  which  he  ex- 
pected would  result  in  the  total  ruin  of  his  army. 
He  ordered  a  funeral  pile  to  be  constructed,  on 
which,  in  the  event  of  defeat,  he  resolved  to  perish 
by  fire,  so  that  he  might  not  fall,  either  alive  or  dead, 
into  the  power  of  his  enemies. 

The  anticipated  assault,  however,  was  not  made. 
Although  the  young  king  of  the  Visigoths  was  eager 
to  complete  his  triumph  and  to  revenge  his  father's 
death,  he  listened  to  the  advice  of  Aetius,  who — 
fearing,  it  is  said,  lest  the  Gothic  power  should  be- 
come dangerously  great — recommended  him  to  re- 
turn to  Toulouse  in  order  to  prevent  his  brothers 
from  seizing  on  the  kingdom  in  his  absence.  And  so 
Attila  was  allowed  to  retire  from  Gaul  undisturbed. 
His  army  was  still  strong  enough  to  enable  him  to 

114  ^^^   KINGDOM   OF   TOULOUSE. 

ravage  the  north  of  Italy  for  two  years,  and  to  compel 
the  Romans  to  make  a  humiliating  treaty  of  peace. 
But  the  battle  of  Moirey  had  not  been  fought  in  vain. 
The  question  whether  barbarism  or  civilization  should 
prevail  in  Western  Europe  was  decided  ;  and  when 
Attila  died  in  453,  the  vast  confederation  of  nations 
over  whom  he  ruled  had  fell  to  pieces.  The  Ostrogoths 
established  a  kingdom  in  Pannonia,  which  included 
nearly  all  the  present  Austrian  dominions  south  and 
west  of  the  Danube  ;  the  Gepids  settled  east  of  them 
in  Dacia  ;  and  the  broken  remnant  of  the  Huns,  after 
a  fruitless  invasion  of  the  eastern  empire,  wandered 
away  into  Southern  Russia,  where  they  were  over- 
whelmed by  the  successive  swarms  of  kindred  savages 
who  continued  to  stream  westward  from  Asia. 

Thorismund  did  not  long  enjoy  his  kingdom.  He 
quarrelled  with  Aetius  about  the  division  of  the 
Hunnisb  spoils,  and  began  to  levy  war  upon  the 
Romans ;  against  the  wish  of  the  more  powerful  party 
among  his  subjects,  who  desired  to  remain  in  friend- 
ship with  the  empire.  A  rebellion  broke  out,  and  in 
the  year  453  Thorismund  was  murdered  by  two  of  his 
brothers,  one  of  whom,  Theoderic  H.,  succeeded  him 
in  his  kingdom,  and  reigned  thirteen  years. 

The  second  Theoderic  was  no  mere  barbarian,  but 
a  man  of  cultivated  mind,  refined  taste,  and  pleasing 
and  graceful  manners,  though,  like  many  other  men 
of  whom  all  this  can  be  said,  he  was  capable  of  the 
basest  treachery  and  cruelty. 

During  Theoderic's  lifetime  events  succeeded  each 
other  very  fast  at  Rome.  Valentinian  HI.,  Placidia's 
worthless  son,  was  murdered  by  a  senator,  Petronius 


■Maximus,  who  assumed  the  imperial  diadem.  He 
had  reigned  only  four  months  when  the  Vandals 
under  Gaiseric  landed  at  the  port  of  Rome.  Maxi- 
mus was  about  to  take  flight,  but  the  people,  disgusted 
with  his  cowardice,  attacked  him  in  the  street,  stoned 
him  to  death,  and  threw  his  body  into  the  Tiber. 
Gaiseric  entered  Rome  unresisted,  and  the  work  of 
destruction  and  plunder  went  on  for  fourteen  days. 
The  city  suffered  far  more  terribly  than  it  had  suffered 
at  the  hands  of  Alaric.  -  AH  the  gcrld  and  silver,  and 
valuable  possessions  of  every  kind,  whether  public  or 
private  property,  which  could  be  removed,  were 
carried  away  to  the  ships  of  Gaiseric.  Amongst 
the  spoil  taken  by  the  Vandals  was  the  seven-branched 
candlestick,  and  the  sacred  vessels  of  the  temple  of 
Jerusalem,  which  had  fallen  into  the  hands  of  Titus 
when  he  captured  the  city.  Many  thousands  of 
prisoners  were  taken  to  be  sold  into  slavery  at 
Carthage,  and  the  empress  Eudoxia,  the  widow  of 
Valentinian,  who  had  been  compelled  to  marry  her 
husband's  murderer,  was  now  obliged  to  follow  in  the 
train  of  the  barbarian  conqueror. 

When  the  news  of  Maximus's  death  was  received 
in  Gaul,  the  Roman  subjects  in  that  province  elected 
the  prefect  Avitus  (whom  we  have  already  mentioned 
as  the  friend  of  the  first  Theoderic)  to  be  emperor  in 
his  stead.  The  Visigoth  king  strongly  supported  his 
claim,  and  the  senate  at  Rome  did  not  dare  to  reject 
a  candidate  who  was  put  forward  by  the  most  powerful 
king  in  Western  Europe.  The  eastern  emperor, 
Marcian,  gave  his  consent,  and  Avitus  took  up  his 
residence  in  the  palace  of  the  Csesars, 


As  the  vassal  of  Avitus,  Theoderic  made  an  expe- 
dition against  the  Sueves,  who  had  been  attacking  the 
Httle  that  remained  of  Roman  territory  in  Spain. 
The  Sueves  were  beaten,  and  their  king,  Rekihari, 
was  captured  and  cruelly  put  to  death.  Theoderic 
would  soon  have  conquered  the  whole  peninsula,  but 
in  October,  456,  his  career  was  stopped  by  the  news 
that  the  emperor  had  been  deposed  and  killed.  Avitus 
had  incurred  the  displeasure  of  the  "  Warwick  the 
king-maker  "  of  those  days — Rikinjer,  the  general  of 
the  barbarian  troops  in  the  Roman  service.  This 
remarkable  man  was  the  son  of  a  Suevic  father,  and 
of  the  daughter  of  Wallia,  king  of  the  Visigoths. 
At  this  time  he  was  practically  sovereign  of  the 
western  empire  ;  and  although  he  never  took  the 
imperial  title  himself,  he  continued,  until  his  death  in 
472,  to  appoint  and  depose  emperors  just  as  he 
pleased.  The  history  of  Rome  under  the  nominal 
rule  of  Majorian,  Severus,  Anthemius,  and  Olybrius, 
does  not  belong  to  our  story  ;  but  the  growing  weak- 
ness of  the  empire,  caused  by  the  political  confusion, 
and  the  occasional  struggles  between  these  emperors 
and  their  master,  allowed  the  Visigoth  kings  to  pursue 
their  schemes  of  conquest  without  any  serious  check. 

In  466,  Theoderic,  who  had  gained  his  throne  by 
the  murder  of  his  brother,  was  himself  murdered  by 
his  younger  brother  Euric.  A  skilful  general  and  a 
cunning  statesman,  utterly  destitute  of  conscience, 
shrinking  from  no  act  of  cruelty  or  treachery  necessary 
for  the  accomplishment  of  his  plans,  Euric  raised  the 
Visigoth  kingdom  to  its  highest  point  of  power.  He 
conquered  the  whole  of  the  Spanish  peninsula,  with 


the  exception  of  the  north-western  corner,  which  he 
allowed  the  Suevic  kings  to  hold  as  his  vassals,  and  he 
destroyed  the  small  remnant  of  Roman  dominion  in 

If  you  glance  at  the  map  accompanying  this  volume, 
you  will  see  how  Gaul  was  divided  at  the  time  of 
Euric's  death  in  485.  The  Visigoths  held  nearly  all 
the  country  south  of  the  Loire  and  west  of  the 
Rhone,  besides  the  region  since  known  as  Provence, 
which  includes  the  great  cities  of  Aries  and  Marseilles. 
Their  eastern  neighbour  was  the  kingdom  of  the 
Burgunds,  ruled  over  by  Gundobad,  the  nephew  of 
Rikimer.  North  of  the  Loire  was  the  so-called 
"  Roman  Kingdom,"  which  had  been  founded  by 
Syagrius,  the  son  of  the  Roman  general  ^Egidius, 
and  which  had  its  capital  at  Paris.  And  behind  the 
kingdom  of  Syagrius,  in  the  tract  including  North- 
eastern France,  Belgium,  and  Holland,  dwelt  the 
nation  of  the  Franks,  who  were  destined  in  a  few 
years  to  conquer  the  whole  of  Gaul,  and  eventually  to 
bestow  upon  it  the  new  name  which  it  bears  to  this 

If  the  successors  of  Euric  had  been  endowed  with 
genius  and  energy  equal  to  his,  it  is  possible  that  the 
Visigoths  might  have  made  themselves  masters  of  the 
whole  Western  world.  But  there  was  in  the  kingdom 
one  fatal  element  of  weakness,  which  perhaps  not 
even  a  succession  of  rulers  like  Euric  could  have  long 
prevented  from  working  the  destruction  of  the  State. 
The  Visigoth  kings  were  Arians  ;  the  great  mass  of 
their  subjects  in  Gaul  were  Catholics,  and  the  hatred 
between  religious   parties  was  so  great  that  it  was 


almost  impossible  for  a  soverei^^n  to  win  the  attach- 
ment of  subjects  who  regarded  him  as  a  heretic.  The 
Arian  Goths,  to  do  them  justice,  scarcely  ever  were 
guilty  of  religious  persecution.  But  when  the 
Catholic  bishops  were  found  preaching  rebellion, 
and  conspiring  against  the  throne,  Euric  put  some 
of  them  to  death,  banished  others,  and  refused  to 
allow  successors  to  be  consecrated  in  their  dioceses. 
Where  there  were  no  bishops,  of  course  priests  could 
not  be  ordained ;  the  parishes  were  left  without  clergy, 
and  the  whole  church  organization  fell  into  a  state  of 
ruin  which  excited  the  bitterest  indignation  both  in 
the  kingdom  itself  and  among  Catholic  Christians  in 
all  the  neighbouring  lands. 

Euric's  son  and  successor,  Alaric  II.,  inherited 
neither  his  father's  ability  nor  his  strength  of  will. 
Before  he  had  been  two  years  on  the  throne,  he  had 
shown  his  own  weakness  by  an  act  which  disgusted 
many  of  his  faithful  subjects,  and  only  earned  for 
him  the  contempt  of  those  whom  it  was  intended  to 

The  king  of  the  Franks,  Clovis,^  who,  though  only 
a  boy,  had  already  shown  the  talents  of  a  great 
general,  had  conquered  the  kingdom  of  Paris.  King 
Syagrius  fled  to  Toulouse,  and  was  at  first  received 
with  welcome.  But  when  Clovis  demanded  that  he 
should  be  given  up,  Alaric  did  not  dare  to  refuse,  and 
Syagrius,  loaded  with  chains,  was  delivered  into  the 
hands  of  the  Frankish  ambassadors.     "  Faithless  "  as 

*  We  give  him  the  name  by  which  he  is  usually  known ;  the  more 
correct,  though  less  pronounceable  form  is  Hlodowig  or  Chlodovech, 
the  same  name  as  the  German  Ludwig  and  the  French  Louis. 


the  Goths  were  often  called  by  their  enemies,  they 
were  always  proud  of  their  observance  of  the  duties 
of  hospitality,  and  they  were  bitterly  ashamed  of  this 
cowardly  and  treacherous  deed  of  their  king.  And 
Alaric's  Gaulish  subjects,  who  looked  eagerly  forward 
to  an  opportunity  of  rebellion,  were  greatly  en- 
couraged by  this  proof  of  the  feebleness  of  the  hands 
into  which  the  sceptre  of  the  terrible  Euric  had 

The  only  hope  of  deliverance  from  the  Visigoth 
yoke,  however,  lay  in  a  conquest  of  the  kingdom  by 
the  Franks  ;  and  as  Clovis  was  a  heathen,  there  was 
reason  to  fear  that  the  Catholics  might  find  themselves 
worse  off  under  his  rule  than  even  under  that  of 
Alaric.  Some  of  the  bishops,  indeed,  went  so  far  as 
to  say  that  it  was  better  to  serve  a  heathen  than  a 
heretic,  and  sent  messages  to  Clovis  assuring  him  of 
their  sympathy  in  case  of  an  invasion.  But  they  did 
not  succeed  in  pursuading  their  people  to  join  them : 
however  discontented  they  might  be  under  Alaric,  the 
Southern  Gauls  felt  that  to  place  themselves  in  the 
hands  of  Clovis,  might  be  a  remedy  worse  than  the 

This  state  of  things  continued  until  the  year  496, 
when  the  news  came  that  Clovis  had  professed  himself 
a  Christian,  and  had  been  baptized  by  a  Catholic 
bishop.  The  thought  of  inviting  a  Prankish  invasion 
now  rapidly  gained  ground  among  the  southern 
Catholics,  whose  discontent  with  their  own  condition 
was  increased  by  the  reports  which  they  received  of 
the  growing  wealth  and  prosperity  of  the  Church  in 
Clovis's  dominions.    Many  of  the  clergy  began  openly 


to  preach  rebellion,  and  to  offer  public  prayers  for  the 
coming  of  the  deliverer  from  the  north. 

Alaric  felt  his  danger.  At  first  he  tried  his  father's 
plan  of  banishing  the  rebellious  bishops,  and  when 
that  did  not  seem  to  answer,  he  tried  to  win  over 
the  Catholics  by  kindness,  granting  them  increased 
privileges,  and  authorizing  them  to  hold  a  council  and 
to  fill  up  the  vacant  bishoprics.  But  it  was  all  to  no 
purpose.  The  Catholics  did  not  want  to  be  tolerated 
or  patronized,  they  wanted  to  rule.  Alaric's  conces- 
sions therefore  satisfied  nobody,  while  they  were 
looked  upon  as  a  proof  of  weakness,  which  encouraged 
the  hope  that  the  Visigoth  rule  might  be  brought  to 
an  end  without  much  difficulty. 

Meanwhile  the  Prankish  clergy  were  pressing  on 
their  king  the  duty  of  declaring  a  holy  war  against 
the  heretic  oppressor  of  their  brethren.  Clovis,  we 
may  be  sure,  was  not  unwilling,  but  first  of  all  he  had 
a  quarrel  to  settle  with  his  brother-in-law  Gundobad, 
king  of  the  Burgunds,  who  like  Alaric  was  an  Arian, 
though,  unlike  him,  he  had  been  able  to  gain  the 
affection  of  his  Catholic  subjects.  Gundobad  was 
defeated,  and  the  Burgunds  entered  into  a  treaty  of 
alliance  with  the  Franks.  Although  Alaric  saw  the 
danger  to  his  own  kingdom  from  the  growth  of  the 
Prankish  power,  he  did  not  dare  to  offer  Gundobad 
any  armed  support,  but  he  was  imprudent  enough  to 
express  his  sympathy  with  the  Burgunds.  His  utter- 
ances were  reported  to  Clovis,  who  was  very  angry. 
Alaric  was  in  a  great  fright,  and  wished  to  explain 
away  what  he  had  said.  He  wrote  a  letter  to  "  his 
brother"  Clovis,  begging  him  to  grant  him  an  interview. 

"  THE    WOLF  AND   THE   LAMB.''  121 

The  two  kings  met  on  an  island  in  the  Loire,  near 
Amboise,  where  they  feasted  together,  and  conversed 
with  every  appearance  of  friendliness.  But  every  one 
knew  that  the  peace  would  not  last  long.  The 
situation  was  like  that  in  the  fable  of  "  The  Wolf  and 
the  Lamb."  However  much  Alaric  might  cringe  and 
flatter,  Clovis  would  devour  him  all  the  same,  as  soon 
as  he  found  it  convenient  to  do  so. 

It  was  in  the  year  507  that  Clovis  declared  war 
against  the  Visigoths.  The  real  motive  was  the 
king's  ambition  and  desire  of  conquest.  Of  course 
he  tried  to  find  an  excuse  for  his  aggression  ;  but  he 
did  not  consider  it  worth  while  even  to  pretend  that 
Alaric  had  injured  him.  All  he  had  to  say  was  "that 
it  was  a  shame  that  the  Arians  should  possess  the 
finest  country  in  Gaul,  and  that  it  was  his  duty  as  a 
Catholic  king  to  drive  them  out,  and  to  add  their 
lands  to  his  own  dominions."  Neither  Clovis,  nor  his 
clergy,  or  people,  thought  that  any  other  justification 
was  needed  ;  and  the  Franks  went  to  war  against  the 
Visigoths,  like  the  Hebrews  against  the  people  of 
Canaan,  convinced  that  they  were  doing  God  service, 
and  that  He  was  on  their  side. 

Perhaps  this  was  the  first  time  that  a  Christian 
nation  ever  made  war  with  no  other  professed  reasons 
than  those  of  religious  differences ;  unhappily  it  was 
very  far  from  being  the  last. 

Alaric  was  in  despair.  He  had  to  meet  not  only 
the  Franks,  but  the  Burgunds  as  well  ;  his  army  had 
been  for  many  years  neglected,  and  his  treasury  had 
become  empty.  He  compelled,  or  tried  to  compel, 
all  the  able-bodied  men  in  his  kingdom  to  become 


soldiers,  and  tried  all  sorts  of  means  to  get  money  to 
pay  them.  First  he  had  recourse,  like  James  II.  of 
England  and  many  other  kings  in  their  time  of  need, 
to  the  plan  of  debasing  the  coinage,  and  then  he 
compelled  the  rich  people  to  lend  him  money,  which 
there  was  little  hope  of  their  ever  getting  back.  But 
with  all  his  efforts  Alaric  could  neither  raise  the  men 
nor  the  money  that  he  needed.  His  only  hope  lay  in 
foreign  help.  His  father-in-law,  the  great  Theoderic 
the  Amaling,  who,  as  you  will  learn  in  another 
chapter,  was  at  this  time  King  of  Italy,  had  promised 
to  send  him  a  body  of  troops.  Alaric  was  therefore 
anxious  to  put  off  fighting  until  these  Ostrogoth  allies 
had  arrived,  and  so  he  abandoned  the  defence  of  the 
northern  and  eastern  parts  of  his  kingdom,  and  took 
up  his  position  in  the  south-west,  near  Poitiers.  Just 
at  this  time  one  of  the  Catholic  bishops  in  Alaric's 
dominions — Galactorius  of  Beam — raised  an  army  in 
his  own  diocese,  and  marched  at  its  head  intending  to 
join  the  Franks.  Before  he  had  got  very  far,  however, 
this  warlike  prelate  was  attacked  by  the  Goths,  and 
fell,  as  his  fellow  religionists  thought,  "  gloriously 

As  the  ancient  heathen  had  their  "  oracles,"  so  the 
Christians  of  the  sixth  century  had  theirs.  It  was  to 
the  tombs  of  famous  saints  that  people  used  to  resort 
when  they  wished  to  know  whether  any  undertaking 
which  they  had  engaged  in  would  be  successful  or  not. 
The  priest  in  charge  of  the  tomb  would  receive  their 
questions,  and  on  the  following  morning  communicate 
the  answers  which  he  professed  the  saint  had  revealed 
to  him  in  a  dream.     When  Clovis  with  his  army  had 


entered  Tours,  he  sent  messengers  to  inquire  at  the 
sepulchre  of  St.  Martin  what  would  be  the  result  of 
his  war  against  the  Visigoths.  The  messengers  were 
told  that  the  answer  would  be  contained  in  the  words 
of  the  psalm  which  they  should  hear  as  soon  as  they 
entered  the  church.  The  verses  proved  to  be  the 
following  :  "Thou  hast  girded  me  with  strength  unto 
the  battle  :  Thou  hast  subdued  under  me  those  that 
rose  up  against  me.  Thou  hast  also  given  me  the 
necks  of  mine  enemies,  that  I  might  destroy  them 
that  hate  me." 

Encouraged  by  this  response,  the  Franks  marched 
through  the  territories  of  Alaric,  eager  for  the  conflict 
with  the  enemy  whom  God  had  given  into  their 
hands.  The  church  historians  tell  of  the  "  signs  and 
wonders  "  which  were  granted  them  on  their  way  to 
assure  them  of  the  continuance  of  the  Divine  favour. 
It  is  said  that  when  they  had  come  to  the  banks  of 
the  river  Vienne,  their  progress  was  stopped  by  finding 
the  stream  swollen  by  the  heavy  rains,  so  that  it 
seemed  impossible  for  them  to  cross.  But  while  they 
were  considering  what  to  do,  a  beautiful  white  hart 
was  seen  to  wade  across  the  river,  thus  showing  them 
the  place  of  a  ford,  over  which  the  army  was  able  to 
pass.  The  place  was  long  afterwards  called  "  the 
hart's  ford."  Very  likely  this  story  was  suggested  by 
the  name  itself,  which  may  be  compared  with  those 
of  Hertford  and  Hartford  in  England.  As  the 
Franks  approached  the  city  of  Poitiers,  they  saw  in 
the  sky  above  the  cathedral  a  blaze  of  light  which 
reminded  them  of  the  "pillar  of  fire"  that  went  before 
the  chosen  people  in  the  desert. 


The  rapidity  of  Clevis's  advance  was  something 
quite  unexpected  by  the  Visigoths.  Alaric  still  clung 
to  the  hope  of  being  able  to  avoid  a  battle  until  the 
arrival  of  Theoderic's  Ostrogoths,  and  wished  to 
retreat.  But  the  Franks  were  of  course  anxious  to 
fight  as  soon  as  possible,  and  they  were  so  close 
behind,  and  their  movements  were  so  rapid,  that  a 
retreat  on  the  part  of  the  Goths  would  have  been 
nothing  but  a  flight.  Alaric's  officers  were  of  opinion 
that  it  was  better  to  offer  a  bold  front  to  the  enemy 
where  they  were  than  to  be  pursued  and  overtaken, 
and  the  king,  sorely  against  his  will,  was  obliged  to 
yield  to  their  advice.  He  drew  up  his  army  on  "  the 
field  of  Voclad  "  (the  name  still  survives  as  Vouille  or 
Vougle)  on  the  banks  of  the  Clain,  a  few  miles  south 
of  Poitiers,  and  prepared  to  receive  the  attack  of  the 

The  battle  which  followed  decided  the  fate  of  Gaul. 
The  Visigoths  were  totally  defeated,  and  their  king 
was  killed.  Alaric's  son,  Amalaric,  a  child  five  years 
of  age,  was  carried  across  the  Pyrenees  into  Spain. 
During  the  next  two  years  Clovis  conquered,  with 
very  little  resistance,  almost  all  the  Gaulish  dominions 
of  the  Visigoths,  and  added  them  to  his  own.  The 
"  Kingdom  of  Toulouse  "  was  no  more. 

So,  as  Jordanes  says,  the  greatness  of  the  Visigoths, 
which  had  been  built  up  by  the  first  Alaric,  fell  to 
ruin  under  the  second.  But  Clovis  was  not  allowed 
to  fulfil  his  intention  of  thoroughly  destroying  their 
power,  for  the  great  Theoderic  of  Ital)^  took  up  the 
cause  of  his  grandson  Amalaric.  The  final  result  of 
many  struggles  between  Theoderic  and  the  Franks 



was  that  the  Visigoths  were  allowed  to  remain  masters 
of  Spain,  and  of  a  strip  of  sea-coast  bordering  on  the 
Gulf  of  Lyons. 

Of  the  fortunes  of  this  diminished  kingdom,  which 
lasted  just  200  years,  we  shall  afterwards  have  to  tell. 
But  for  the  present  we  must  leave  the  Visigoths, 
whose  history  is  no  longer  the  main  thread  of  the 
story  of  the  Goths.  We  have  to  relate  how  the 
Ostrogoths  won  the  kingdom  of  Italy,  how  they  ruled 
there,  and  how  at  length  they  fell. 



We  must  now  go  back  to  the  year  472,  when 
Rikimer  the  emperor-maker  died.  The  last  emperor 
whom  he  had  made,  Olybrius,  survived  him  only  two 
months ;  and,  after  some  time,  Gundobad,  Rikimer's 
nephew — the  same  whom  we  have  before  spoken  of 
as  King  of  the  Burgunds — appointed  a  certain 
Glycerius  to  the  vacant  throne.  The  choice  did  not 
please  the  eastern  emperor,  Leo,  and  Julius  Nepos, 
Prince  of  Dalmatia,  and  a  nephew  (by  marriage)  of 
Leo's  wife,  was  proclaimed  at  Constantinople,  Emperor 
of  the  West.  Nepos  sailed  to  Italy  to  take  possession 
of  his  empire  in  the  spring  of  474.  There  was  not 
much  trouble  with  Glycerius,  who  was  soon  persuaded 
to  resign  his  diadem,  and  accept  consecration  as 
Bishop  of  Salona  in  Dalmatia.  But  in  the  August  of 
the  following  year,  Nepos  himself  had  to  take  refuge 
in  his  inherited  dominions.  The  army  had  revolted, 
and  the  commander-in-chief,  an  lUyrian  named  Orestes, 
had  seized  the  reins  of  government. 

This  Orestes  had  had  a  strange  history.  About 
thirty  years  before  the  date  of  the  events  just 
mentioned,  his  native  country — the  northern  part  of 
of  what  is  now  called  Croatia — had  been  given  up  by 


the  Romans  to  the  Huns.  Orestes,  who  was  then 
quite  a  young  man,  finding  himself  one  of  Attila's 
subjects,  offered  his  services  to  the  Hunnish  king, 
and  seems  to  have  acted  as  his  secretary.  In  this 
capacity  he  was  in  the  year  448  sent  on  a  mission 
from  Attila  to  the  eastern  emperor,  Theodosius  II., 
and  we  read  of  his  being  terribly  indignant  because 
he  was  not  regarded  as  a  person  of  equal  consequence 
with  his  fellow-envoy,  Edica  the  Scirian.  By  what 
curious  chances  it  came  about  that  the  former 
secretary  of  Attila  now  found  himself  at  the  head  of 
the  Roman  army,  and  master  of  the  Roman  state, 
history  does  not  tell. 

Orestes  did  not  choose  to  call  himself  emperor, 
thinking,  perhaps,  that  it  was  safer  for  the  wearer  of 
the  diadem  and  the  real  holder  of  power  to  be  different 
persons.  He  contented  himself  with  the  title  of 
Patrician,  the  same  which  had  been  borne  by  Rikimer 
and  by  Aetius  ;  and  bestowed  the  imperial  crown  on 
his  son,  a  boy  of  fourteen,  who  was  named  Romulus 
after  his  maternal  grandfather.  Very  likely  Orestes 
may  have  thought  what  a  lucky  omen  it  was  that  the 
new  emperor  should  bear  the  name  of  Rome's  first 
sovereign,  and  may  have  flattered  himself  that  his 
son's  reign  would  be  the  beginning  of  a  new  age 
of  glory  and  prosperity  for  the  empire  that  had  fallen 
so  low.  But  the  people  looked  on  the  election  of  the 
boy- emperor  as  a  good  joke,  and  turned  his  grand 
title  of  Augustus  into  the  playful  diminutive  Augus- 
tulus.  And  so  "  Romulus  Augustulus  "  is  the  name 
by  which  the  son  of  Orestes  is  always  known  in 


It  was  not  long  before  signs  of  serious  trouble 
showed  themselves.  The  barbarian  troops  in  the 
Roman  service  demanded  of  the  Patrician  that 
he  should  make  them  a  gift  of  one-third  of  every 
landed  estate  in  Italy.  Orestes  refused,  and  the  whole 
mixed  multitude  of  Goths,  Scirians,  Rugians,  Tur- 
cilings,  Herules,  and  Alans,  which  now  formed  the 
great  bulk  of  the  military  force  of  the  western  empire, 
rose  at  once  in  rebellion.  They  chose  as  their  king 
Odovacar  or  Odoacer  [Audawakrs],  the  son  of  that 
Edica  the  Scirian,  whom  we  have  mentioned  as 
having  been  associated  with  Orestes  in  Attila's  em- 
bassy to  Constantinople.  The  Scirians  were  one  of 
those  smaller  peoples  who  spoke  the  same  language 
of  the  Goths,  and  hence  Odovacar  is  often  spoken  of 
as  "  King  of  the  Goths."  But  he  was  really  not  the 
king  of  any  nation,  but  only  of  the  mingled  host, 
belonging  to  many  barbarian  races,  who  served  under 
the  Roman  standards. 

There  is  a  story  which  tells  how,  when  Odovacar 
was  a  young  man,  poor  and  unknown,  he  was  wander- 
ing in  Southern  Germany,  and  paid  a  visit  with  some 
of  his  companions  to  a  saintly  hermit  named  Severinus 
to  ask  for  his  blessing.  His  coarse  dress  showed  his 
poverty,  but  the  attention  of  the  saint  was  at  once 
attracted  by  his  stature,  which  was  so  tall  that  he  had 
to  stoop  in  order  to  come  under  the  lowly  roof  of  the 
cell.  Severinus  soon  saw  that  the  young  Scirian 
was  as  remarkable  for  his  powers  of  mind  as  for 
his  noble  form  and  bearing,  and  prophesied  that 
there  was  a  glorious  career  before  him.  Odovacar 
informed  him  that  he  was  intending  to  go  to  Italy 



to  seek  employment  in  the  Roman  army.  "  By  all 
means  go,"  said  Severinus,  "  although  you  are  now- 
poorly  clad  in  skins,  I  foresee  that  it  will  not  be 
long  before  you  make  many  men  rich  with  your 
princely  gifts." 

Orestes  was  killed  in  the  tumult  ;  some  say  that 
Odovacar  slew  him  with  his  own  hand.  But  the  king 
of  the  barbarians  took  pity  on  ''  Romulus  Augustu- 
lus,"  and  gave  him  a  pension  of  six  thousand  gold 
pieces  yearly,  and  a  splendid  palace  at  Misenum,  on 
the  bay  of  Naples,  which  had  belonged  to  the  great 
Roman  general,  Lucullus. 

It  was  in  the  year  476  that  Orestes  was  put  to  death. 
For  four  years  longer  Odovacar  seems  to  have  kept 
up  the  pretence  of  being  the  servant  and  protector  of 
the  boy-emperor.  But  in  the  year  480  Augustulus 
was  made  formally  to  resign  his  throne,  and  to  add  his 
signature  to  a  memorial  which  the  senate  addressed  to 
the  eastern  emperor  Zeno,  saying  that  they  had  deter- 
mined to  abolish  the  useless  dignity  of  emperor  of  the 
west,  and  asking  him  to  proclaim  himself  the  sovereign 
of  the  whole  Roman  world.  Of  course  they  added 
the  request  that  Zeno  would  entrust  the  government 
of  the  w^estern  provinces  to  that  excellent  statesman 
and  soldier  Odovacar,  and  confer  on  him  the  rank  ot 

The  memorial  was  carried  to  Constantinople  by 
delegates  from  the  senate,  who  were  accompanied  by 
ambassadors  sent  by  Odovacar  himself  No  doubt 
Odovacar  thought  that  Zeno,  who  had  just  been  re- 
stored to  the  throne  from  which  he  had  been  driven 
by  rebellion,  would  be  highly  flattered  by  the  prospect 


of  becoming,  if  only  in  name,  the  emperor  both  of 
east  and  west. 

But  on  the  same  day  on  which  the  envoys  pre- 
sented themselves  at  the  palace,  there  arrived  ambas- 
sadors from  Nepos  to  congratulate  Zeno  on  his 
restoration,  and  to  beg  for  his  assistance  in  regaining 
his  lost  empire.  Nepos  was  related  by  marriage  to 
the  empress,  and  had  too  many  friends  at  the  court 
at  Constantinople  for  Zeno  to  venture  to  betray  his 
cause.  He  angrily  upbraided  the  senate  for  their 
treason  against  their  rightful  sovereign.  To  Odovacar 
himself  he  sent  a  polite  letter,  recommending  him  to 
acknowledge  his  allegiance  to  Nepos,  and  to  seek  to 
obtain  from  him  the  office  which  he  desired.  In  the 
letter,  however,  he  addressed  Odovacar  by  the  title  of 
"  Patrician,"  which,  he  said,  he  felt  sure  Nepos  would 
willingly  grant  when  he  was  asked. 

But  although  Zeno  might  refuse  to  acknowledge  the 
action  of  the  senate,  it  was  none  the  less  the  fact  that 
the  abdication  of  Romulus  was  the  end  of  the 
western  empire.  The  year  480  is  a  memorable  date 
in  history,  and  the  name  of  "  Romulus  Augustulus  "  a 
memorable  name,  though  the  poor  boy-emperor  him- 
self never  did  anything  to  make  it  so.  From  this 
time  forward  the  proud  title  of  Augustus  remained 
the  exclusive  possession  of  the  rulers  of  Constanti- 
nople, until  three  centuries  later  it  was  assumed  by 
the  Prankish  king  who  was  crowned  at  Rome  as  the 
successor  of  the  emperors  of  the  West. 

Before  this  fateful  year  had  closed,  Nepos  was 
assassinated  by  a  certain  Count  Ovida.  Zeno  made 
no   attempt   to   appoint   a  successor,  and  no  longer 


refused  to  be  regarded  as  sovereign  over  the  western 

Of  course  this  sovereignty  was  only  an  empty  name, 
for  Odovacar  was  practically  king  of  Italy,  and  all  the 
rest  of  what  had  been  the  western  empire  was  in  the 
hands  of  other  barbarian  kings.  The  rule  of  Odovacar, 
so  far  as  it  depended  on  himself,  was  wise  and  merciful. 
Although  an  Arian,  he  gave  the  Catholics  full  liberty 
of  worship  ;  the  Roman  state  officials  were  allowed  to 
keep  their  places,  and  the  system  of  government  was 
little  changed.  But  the  barbarian  soldiers  received 
their  promised  third  part  of  the  Italian  lands,  and 
they  subjected  the  Roman  country  people  to  a  great 
deal  of  insult  and  oppression,  which  the  king  was 
unable  to  prevent.  Property  and  life  became  insecure  ; 
agriculture  and  trade  fell  into  neglect,  and  altogether 
the  state  of  Italy  under  Odovacar  was  one  of  great 

Although  Odovacar  would  tolerate  no  interference 
with  his  government,  he  tried  to  gain  Zeno's  goodwill 
in  various  ways.  He  sent  over  to  Constantinople  the 
insignia  of  the  imperial  palace,  and  caused  statues  of 
the  emperor  to  be  erected  in  Rome  and  elsewhere. 
He  also  undertook  an  expedition  to  Dalmatia  against 
the  murderer  of  Nepos,  who  was  taken  prisoner  and 
put  to  death. 

But  Zeno  was  anxious  to  be  master  of  Italy  in  reality 
as  well  as  in  name,  and  if  he  had  had  a  powerful  army 
at  his  command  he  would  very  promptly  have  made  an 
attempt  to  drive  out  the  Usurper  by  force  of  arms. 
For  several  years  his  weakness  compelled  him  to  put 
off  his  design,  but  about  the  year  489  he  granted  per- 



mission  to  the  king  of  the  Ostrogoths,  the  famous 
Theoderic  the  AmaHng,  to  invade  the  country,  and  to 
take  possession  of  it  in  the  name  of  the  empire. 

Before  we  tell  of  the  struggle  that  took  place  be- 
tween Odovacar  and  the  Amaling,  we  must  relate  the 
story  of  Theoderic's  early  life. 



Theoderic,  the  son  of  Theudemer,  as  we  have 
already  mentioned  at  the  end  of  our  fifth  chapter, 
was  born  on  the  day  when  his  uncle  Walamer,  king 
of  the  Ostrogoths,  won  the  great  victory  that  set  his 
nation  free  from  the  dominions  of  the  Huns.  The 
home  of  the  Ostrogothic  nation  was  then  (about  A.D. 
454)  in  the  region  which  we  call  South-western 
Austria,  and  Theoderic's  birthplace  was  somewhere 
not  very  far  from  Vienna.  After  the  Ostrogoths  had 
established  their  independence,  they  entered  into  an 
alliance  with  the  eastern  emperor  Marcian,  who 
agreed  to  pay  them  a  large  sum  of  money  every 
year,  to  enable  them  to  defend  their  kingdom  and 
furnish  men  when  required  for  the  service  of  the 

While  Marcian  lived  the  treaty  seems  to  have  been 
observed  on  both  sides.  The  next  emperor,  Leo  of 
Thrace,  owed  his  position  to  the  favour  of  the  "Patri- 
cian" Aspar,  a  barbarian  who  had  at  Constantinople 
the  same  rank  and  the  same  influence  that  Rikimer 
had  at  Rome  ;  and  Aspar  caused  the  yearly  subsidy 
to  be  taken  away  from  Walamer  and  given  to  an- 
other Gothic  chieftain,  a  relative  of  his  own,  Theoderic 

134  ^^^   BOYHOOD   OF    THEODERIC. 

Strabo/  the  son  of  Triarius.  Who  this  man  was 
we  do  not  certainly  know,  but  possibly  the  body 
of  Goths  whom  he  commanded  may  have  been 
descendants  of  those  who  sixty  years  before  had 
been  defeated  with  Gaina  in  Thrace.  We  shall  have 
frequently  to  speak  of  him  in  the  following  chapters, 
and  in  order  to  distinguish  him  from  the  other 
Theoderic,  we  shall  always  give  him  his  Latin  name. 

King  Walamer  tried  all  peaceable  means  to  induce 
the  emperor  Leo  to  restore  him  his  yearly  pay,  but 
when  he  found  that  his  representations  were  of  no 
avail  he  led  his  army  into  Illyria,  and  soon  made 
the  Romans  feel  that  it  was  much  better  to  have  him 
for  a  friend  than  for  an  enemy.  In  the  year  462  the 
treaty  was  renewed.  The  emperor  agreed  to  make 
Walamer  a  regular  payment  of  three  hundred  pounds 
weight  of  gold  every  year,  besides  paying  the  arrears 
that  had  already  been  incurred.  In  return  the 
Ostrogoths  undertook  to  guard  the  borders  of  the 
empire,  and  the  little  Theoderic,  then  eight  years 
old,  was  sent  to  Constantinople  as  a  hostage  to  ensure 
fulfilment  of  their  part  of  the  bargain.  His  father 
was  not  very  willing  to  let  him  go,  but  king  Walamer 
persuaded  him  to  consent — urging  the  great  ad- 
vantage which  it  would  be  for  the  boy,  who  would 
one  day  be  king  of  the  Ostrogoths,  to  have  received 
an  education  in  the  imperial  palace. 

The   young    Gothic    prince   soon    became  a  great 

^  As  the  Latin  word  Sti-abo  means  a  person  who  squints,  it  has  often 
been  thought  that  Theoderic  must  have  been  so  nicknamed  on  account 
of  a  personal  defect.  But  it  is  quite  as  Hkely  that  Strabo  was  the 
name  of  some  Roman  patron,  by  whom  Theoderic  had  been  adopted 
as  a  son. 


favourite  with  the  emperor.  He  remained  ten  years 
at  Constantinople,  and  seems  to  have  been  brought 
.up  just  like  the  son  of  a  Roman  of  high  rank.  The 
most  celebrated  teachers  in  the  capital  were  secured 
for  his  education,  and  although  no  doubt  he  was 
more  distinguished  for  success  in  athletic  exercises 
than  in  book-learning,  we  need  not  believe  the  com- 
mon story  that  when  he  became  king  of  Italy  he 
was  unable  to  write,  and  had  to  make  his  official 
signature  with  the  help  of  a  gold  stencil-plate.  His 
residence  in  Constantinople  certainly  taught  him  to 
appreciate  the  advantages  of  civilized  ways  of  life, 
and  inspired  him  with  a  desire  to  impart  those  ad- 
vantages to  his  own  people. 

When  Theoderic  was  eighteen  years  old,  he  was 
allowed  to  return  home,  receiving  on  his  departure 
many  splendid  presents  from  the  emperor  and  his 
court.  During  his  period  of  exile,  king  Walamer 
had  been  killed  in  a  battle  against  the  Scirians,  and 
Theudemer  had  become  king  in  his  stead.  It  was 
hard  work  for  the  Ostrogoth  kingdom  to  maintain 
itself  against  the  attacks  of  the  surrounding  peoples. 
On  one  side  it  was  assailed  by  the  Gepids  and 
Sarmatians,  on  another  side  by  the  Alamans,  Sueves, 
and  Rugians  ;  and  the  remnant  of  the  Huns  had 
not  given  up  trying  to  recover  their  lost  dominion. 
When  Theoderic  returned  home,  he  found  that  his 
father  was  away  fighting  the  Alamans  in  the  north- 
west, while  the  opposite  extremity  of  the  kingdom 
was  threatened  by  a  Sarmatian  king  named  Babai, 
who  had  captured  the  Roman  fortress  of  Singidunum 
(now  Belgrade). 

136       THE   BOYHOOD   OF   THEODERIC. 

The  young  prince  soon  showed  that  his  education 
at  Constantinople  had  included  some  lessons  in  the 
art  of  war.  Without  waiting  for  his  father's  permis- 
sion, he  collected  a  band  of  six  thousand  men,  and 
attacked  Babai  on  his  own  ground.  Singidunum 
was  taken  ;  the  Sarmatian  king  was  killed,  and  his 
family  and  his  treasure  carried  off  in  triumph  to  the 
Ostrogoth  capital.  In  spite  of  his  friendly  relations 
with  the  emperor  Leo,  Theoderic  did  not  give  back 
Singidunum  to  the  Romans.  Perhaps  indeed  they 
never  asked  for  it,  for  the  rulers  at  Constantinople 
were  kept  too  busy  with  their  home  troubles  to  think 
much  about  the  outlying*  parts  of  the  empire,  and 
Theoderic  had  at  any  rate  relieved  them  of  one 
dangerous  enemy. 

But  the  limits  of  Theudemer's  kingdom  were  too 
narrow  for  the  numbers  of  the  people,  and  the  con- 
tinual conflicts  with  the  border  tribes  left  them  little 
opportunity  for  tilling  their  fields  ;  besides,  after 
nearly  a  century  of  wandering  about  under  the 
dominion  of  the  Huns,  they  could  not  be  very  well 
fitted  to  settle  down  peacefully  as  farmers.  When 
the  Ostrogoths  found  themselves  in  danger  of  famine, 
they  begged  their  king  to  lead  them  forth  to  war  — 
no  matter  against  what  enemy,  if  only  they  might 
have  the  chance  of  supporting  themselves  by 

The  king  could  not  refuse  his  people's  demand. 
The  army  was  divided  into  two  bodies,  one  led  by 
Theudemer  himself,  the  other  by  his  brother 
Widumer,  and  it  was  decided  that  they  should 
attack  severally,  the  eastern  and  the  western  Roman 


Empire.  In  the  presence  of  the  assembled  people 
the  two  chiefs  solemnly  cast  lots  to  determine  the 
direction  in  which  each  of  them  should  march. 

The  lot  so  fell  out  that  Widumer  led  his  division 
of  the  people  to  Italy.  It  was  in  the  short  reign 
of  Glycerins,  and  that  emperor — it  was  almost  the 
only  official  act  of  his  that  we  know  of,  except  his 
abdication — induced  the  invaders,  by  the  gift  of  a 
large  sum  of  money,  to  go  away  into  Gaul,  where 
they  united  themselves  with  the  Visigoth  subjects 
of  Euric. 

The  great  mass  of  the  Ostrogoth  nation,  however, 
followed  their  king  into  the  region  between  the 
Danube  and  the  Balkan  mountains,  which  had  so 
often,  in  years  gone  by,  had  the  misfortune  to  be 
ravaged  by  Gothic  invaders.  The  city  of  Naissus 
and  several  others  fell  into  their  hands,  and  the 
Romans  of  Constantinople  were  so  alarmed  by  their 
successes  that  they  were  glad  to  purchase  peace. 
The  Ostrogoths  were  invited  to  settle  in  Macedonia, 
and  received  large  gifts  of  land  and  money.  Amongst 
the  cities  which  were  abandoned  to  them  was  Pella, 
famous  as  the  birthplace  of  Alexander  the  Great. 

Just  after  the  conclusion  of  this  treaty  (in  the  year 
474)  Theudemer  died,  and  his  son  Theoderic,  at  the 
age  of  twenty  years,  began  his  long  and  glorious 
reign  as  king  of  the  Ostrogoths. 



The  emperor  Leo  died  in  the  same  year  as 
Theudemer,  and  was  succeeded  by  his  son-in-law, 
"  Trasacodissa  the  son  of  Rusumbladeotus,"  a  native 
of  Isauria  in  Asia  Minor,  who  had  exchanged  his 
barbarous-sounding  native  name  for  the  more  pro- 
nounceable Greek  name  of  Zeno.  You  will  remember 
that  it  was  to  this  emperor  that  the  senate  of  Rome, 
under  the  dictation  of  Odovacar,  offered  in  480  the 
sovereignty  of  Italy  and  the  West. 

Zeno  was,  as  the  historiarfs  of  that  time  tell  us, 
"  a  coward  who  trembled  even  at  the  picture  of  a 
battle."  There  was  no  act  of  meanness  and  no 
humiliation  from  which  he  would  have  shrunk  if  it 
were  necessary  in  order  to  avoid  war.  But  the  two 
principal  "  foreign  powers,"  if  we  may  call  them  so, 
with  whom  he  had  to  do,  Theoderic,  king  of  the 
Ostrogoths,  and  Theoderic  Strabo,  were  bitter  enemies 
to  each  other,  and  if  Zeno  tried  to  please  one  of 
them  he  v/as  sure  to  bring  down  on  himself  the  wrath 
of  the  other.  So  he  was  constantly  seeking  by 
flattery  and  rich  presents,  to  attach  to  his  own  side 
whichever  of  the  two  Gothic  chiefs  happened  to 
be  strongest,  and  at  the  same  time   so  to  arrange 


matters  that  both  of  them  should  suffer  as  much 
damage  as  possible  from  their  mutual  conflicts. 

Before  Zeno  had  been  a  year  on  the  throne,  he 
was  driven  out  of  Constantinople  by  a  rebellion  in 
which  Basiliscus,  the  brother  of  Leo's  widow,  was 
made  emperor.  Strabo  supported  the  usurper,  and 
while  he  reigned  held  the  rank  of  Patrician  and  com- 
mander-in-chief But  the  Ostrogoths  were  on  Zeno's 
side,  and  after  two  years  Basiliscus  was  dethroned, 
and  Zeno  came  back  to  Constantinople.  The 
emperor  made  a  great  display  of  his  gratitude  to 
Theoderic  the  Amaling  for  his  share  in  defeating 
the  rebels ;  he  gave  him  the  title  of  Patrician, 
adopted  him  as  his  son,  conferred  on  him  a  high 
command  of  the  imperial  armies,  and  made  him  a 
a  grant  of  large  sums  of  money.  Theoderic,  how- 
ever, knew  very  well  that  "  his  father "  Zeno  would 
not  at  all  scruple  to  betray  him  whenever  it  suited 
his  convenience,  and  so,  to  make  his  own  position 
more  secure,  he  removed  his  people  from  their  Mace- 
donian abodes,  and  settled  them  along  the  southern 
bank  of  the  Danube,  from  Singidunum  down  to  the 
river  mouth. 

Meanwhile  Theoderic  Strabo  and  /lis  Goths  ranged 
undisturbed  over  Thrace,  and  maintained  themselves 
by  the  plunder  of  the  country  people  of  that  province. 
He  is  said  to  have  been  guilty  of  many  acts  of  cruelty, 
such  as  cutting  off  the  right  hands  of  the  prisoners 
whom  he  took,  so  that  they  might  never  be  able  to 
fight  against  him.  But  the  plunder  of  Thrace  was 
soon  exhausted,  and  when  Strabo  found  it  difficult  to 
obtain  food  for  his  army  he  sent  ambassadors  to  Zeno 


to  say  that  he  was  willing  to  make  peace — on  condi- 
tion of  being  put  into  the  position  then  occupied  by 
his  rival.  He  argued  that  Theoderic  the  Amaling 
had  acted  like  a  rebel,  in  occupying  the  Danube 
region  without  permission,  and  that  it  would  be  to 
the  emperor's  interest  to  break  with  the  Ostrogoths, 
and  entrust  Strabo  himself  with  the  duty  of  punishing 
their  breach  of  faith. 

Zeno  thought  that  Strabo's  wish  for  peace  was  a 
sign  of  weakness,  and  therefore  rejected  the  proposals 
with  the  utmost  scorn,  and  gave  orders  to  his  generals 
to  prosecute  the  war  with  all  possible  vigour.  But 
Strabo's  Goths  showed  unexpected  powers  of  resist- 
ance ;  the  Roman  troops  were  beaten,  and  there 
actually  seemed  reason  to  fear  that  the  enemy  might 
soon  threaten  Constantinople  itself.  It  was  now  the 
emperor's  turn  to  try  to  make  peace,  and  he  sent  to 
offer  Strabo  the  undisturbed  possession  of  the  territory 
he  had  conquered,  on  condition  that  he  should  abstain 
from  further  hostilities  against  the  empire,  and  should 
send  his  son  as  a  hostage  to  Constantinople. 

But  Strabo  by  this  time  had  got  to  know  his  own 
strength.  He  had  learned,  too,  that  he  had  many 
friends  in  the  capital  itself,  and  believed  that  it  might 
not  be  difficult  for  him  to  obtain  an  entrance  into  the 
city  and  to  make  himself  master  of  the  empire.  He 
accordingly  rejected  the  proposed  conditions,  and 
Zeno  in  his  despair  was  reduced  to  implore  the  help 
of  the  Ostrogoths. 

Theoderic  the  Amaling,  however,  shrewdly  sus- 
pected that  Zeno  meant  to  lead  him  into  a  trap,  and 
it  was  a  long  time  before  he  could  be  persuaded  to 


move.  He  made  the  emperor  swear  a  solemn  oath 
never  to  make  peace  with  Strabo,  and  promise  that 
before  he  arrived  in  presence  of  the  enemy  he  should 
be  joined  by  a  Roman  army  of  eight  thousand  horse 
and  thirty  thousand  foot.  Having  received  these 
assurances,  Theoderic  led  his  soldiers  into  Thrace. 
After  a  long  and  toilsome  march  through  a  desolate 
country,  he  suddenly  came  in  sight  of  Strabo's  army, 
posted  in  a  strong  position  on  a  mountain  called 
Sondis.  There  was  no  sign  of  the  coming  of  the 
promised  Roman  troops,  and  it  soon  became  clear 
that  Zeno  had  never  meant  to  send  them. 

Theoderic's  situation  was  a  desperate  one.  It  was 
impossible  to  attack  Strabo  in  his  encampment  on  the 
mountain,  and  just  as  impossible  to  retreat  to  a  safer 
position.  He  remained  for  several  days  undecided, 
perhaps  hoping  against  hope  that  his  Roman  allies 
might  after  all  arrive.  Strabo  made  no  attempt  to 
assume  the  offensive,  but  rode  every  day  to  a  place 
which  was  out  of  the  reach  of  bowshot,  and  where  his 
powerful  voice  could  be  heard  in  the  Ostrogoth  camp. 
"  Goths  !  "  he  said,  "  will  you  let  yourselves  be  led  by 
that  foolish  boy  to  fight  against  your  own  brothers  ? 
Will  you  be  made  to  play  the  game  of  the  Romans, 
who  desire  nothing  better  than  to  see  us  cut  each 
other's  throats  ?  What  has  Theoderic  ever  done  for 
you  ?  Some  of  you  were  rich  once  :  he  has  made 
you  poor.  Nobles  and  freemen  as  you  call  yourselves, 
he  has  led  you  out  like  slaves  to  perish  in  this  desert 
that  he  may  earn  honours  and  wealth  from  the  enemies 
of  our  people."  Such  words  as  these  excited  fierce 
discontent  amongst  the  Ostrogoths,  and  their  king 


was  compelled  to  enter  into  an  alliance  with  his  rival. 
And  so,  while  Zeno  was  expecting  the  welcome  news 
of  a  bloody  battle  between  his  enemy  and  his  too 
dangerous  ally,  he  learned  instead  that  the  two  chiefs 
had  united  against  him,  and  were  prepared  to  march 
together  upon  Constantinople  unless  the  demands  of 
both  were  fully  satisfied. 

The  treacherous  emperor  could  think  of  no  other 
plan  than  that  of  bribing  one  of  the  new  allies  to 
betray  the  other.  First  he  tried  what  he  could  do 
with  the  Amaling.  He  offered  him  immense  sums 
of  money  paid  down,  and  a  larger  yearly  income 
than  he  had  before  received  from  the  empire.  He 
also  promised  him  the  hand  of  the  daughter  of 
Olybrius,  the  late  emperor  of  the  West.  But  Theo- 
deric  was  not  to  be  induced  to  become  a  traitor,  and 
Zeno  then  endeavoured  to  buy  over  the  other  of  the 
confederates.  In  this  attempt  he  was  successful. 
Whatever  Strabo  might  have  said  about  the  wicked- 
ness and  folly  of  a  war  between  "  brethren,"  he  had 
no  objection  to  fight  against  the  Ostrogoths  if  the 
price  offered  was  high  enough,  and  he  accepted  the 
emperor's  proposal  to  invest  him  with  the  honours 
and  commands  which  had  been  held  by  the  Amaling, 
and  to  allow  him  to  maintain  thirteen  thousand  Gothic 
soldiers  at  the  emperor's  cost. 

It  is  no  wonder  that  Theoderic  was  very  angry  at 
this  shameful  breach  of  faith.  The  first  thing  he  did 
was  to  invade  Macedonia,  where  it  is  said  that  he 
put  the  garrisons  of  several  cities  to  the  sword  with- 
out quarter  ;  then,  crossing  over  the  mountains  into 
Epirus,  he  came  to  the  Adriatic  coast,  and  took  pos- 


session  of  Dyrrhachium  (Durazzo),  the  great  seaport 
from  which  ships  used  to  sail  for  the  south  of  Italy. 

But  Zeno  soon  became  dissatisfied  with  the  conduct 
of  Strabo,  and  so  he  sent  ambassadors  after  the 
Amaling  to  try  to  make  peace  with  him.  He  offered 
to  grant  the  Ostrogoths  a  tract  of  country  in  Epirus, 
and  to  provide  them  with  money  to  buy  corn  until 
they  could  raise  their  first  harvest.  Theoderic  in- 
sisted on  better  terms  ;  but  while  the  negotiations 
w^ere  going  on,  his  brother  Theudamund  was  treacher- 
ously attacked  by  a  Roman  general,  who  took  five 
thousand  prisoners.  After  this  the  parley  was  broken 
off,  and  the  war  began  afresh. 

In  the  year  481  a  rebellion  broke  out  in  the  neigh- 
bourhood of  Constantinople,  led  by  two  generals 
named  lUus  and  Romulus.  Strabo  undertook,  in 
consideration  of  a  heavy  increase  of  pay,  to  put 
down  the  rising ;  but  he  played  the  traitor  after 
all,  and  joined  the  rebels  in  an  unsuccessful  at- 
tempt to  take  Constantinople.  Soon  afterwards  he 
was  accidentally  killed,  his  horse  having  run  away 
with  him  and  thrown  him  against  the  point  of  a  spear, 
which  had  been  fixed  before  a  tent. 

So  now  Theoderic  the  Amaling  was  freed  from  the 
rivalry  of  his  troublesome  namesake.  His  army  was 
soon  joined  by  the  greater  part  of  Strabo's  followers, 
and  he  became  so  formidable  and  did  so  much 
damage  to  the  empire  that  Zeno  was  glad  to  pur- 
chase his  friendship  at  any  price.  In  483  the  Ostro- 
goths received  an  ample  grant  of  land  near  the 
Danube.  Two  years  later,  Theoderic  marched  against 
the  rebel   forces  under  lUus,  and  gained  a  complete 

144  ^^^  RIVAL  NAMESAKES. 

victory,  for  which  he  was  rewarded  with  a  triumph  and 
an  equestrian  statue  at  Constantinople.  But  very- 
soon  the  emperor  and  the  king  were  quarrelling 
again,  and  the  Ostrogoths  took  up  arms  and  began 
to  ravage  the  neighbourhood  of  Constantinople. 

At  last,  however,  a  settlement  was  arrived  at  which 
satisfied  both  parties.  Zeno  gave  permission  to 
Theoderic  to  go  and  wrest  Italy  from  the  hands  of 
Odovacar,  to  establish  his  own  people  there,  and  to 
rule  the  country  as  the  emperor's  representative. 

This  plan  enabled  Zeno  to  get  rid  of  the  Ostro- 
goths, whose  expensive  help  was  no  longer  necessary 
to  him.  At  the  same  time,  it  was  just  what  Theo- 
deric himself  desired.  Although  circumstances  had 
compelled  him  to  become  something  like  a  bandit 
chief,  it  had  always  been  his  great  ambition  to  be  the 
king  of  a  settled  and  civilized  people.  And  now,  with 
the  express  sanction  of  the  sovereign  whom  he  regarded 
as  the  rightful  lord  of  the  world,  he  was  to  place  his 
subjects  in  that  very  land  in  which,  more  than  in  any 
other  he  might  reasonably  hope  to  mould  them  into 
a  great  nation,  which  should  be  as  glorious  in  the 
arts  and  the  virtues  of  peace  as  in  those  of  war. 




It  was  in  the  year  488  that  Theoderic  received  the 
emperor's  permission  to  go  to  Italy  and  fight  against 
Odovacar.  He  betook  himself  at  once  to  his  head- 
quarters at  Novae,  on  the  south  bank  of  the  Danube 
(near  Sistova),  and  called  on  his  people  to  make 
ready  for  emigrating  into  their  "  promised  land." 
The  preparations  were  quickly  made,  for  the  Ostro- 
goths had  only  been  in  Mcesia  five  years,  and  it  was 
easy  for  them  to  resume  the  wandering  life  to  which 
they  had  so  long  been  accustomed.  Theoderic  was 
so  eager  to  get  to  Italy  that  he  began  his  march  at 
the  end  of  the  autumn,  thus  exposing  his  people  to 
suffer  the  hardships  of  winter  in  addition  to  those  of 
a  long  journey  over  rugged  mountains  and  through 
the  territories  of  unfriendly  tribes. 

It  is  thought  that  the  people  whom  Theoderic  led 
out  of  Mcesia  numbered  not  less  than  a  quarter  of  a 
million.  For  about  three  hundred  miles  this  vast 
multitude,  with  all  their  cattle  and  their  baggage, 
proceeded  along  the  bank  of  the  Danube  without 
meeting  opposition.  But  when  they  came  to  Singi- 
dunum,  the  place  where  Theoderic,  when  a  boy,  had 

146         HOW   THE   OSTROGOTHS    WON  ITALY. 

gained  his  famous  victory,  their  progress  was  stopped 
by  the  Gepids,  who  had  now  taken  possession  of  the 
country  which  the  Ostrogoths  had  occupied  in  King 
Walamer's  and  King  Theudemer's  days. 

Theoderic  sent  messengers  to  Thrafstila,  king  of  the 
Gepids,  asking  permission  for  the  Ostrogoths  to  pass 
through  his  country.  Thrafstila  refused,  and  there 
was  a  great  battle  near  a  river  called  Ulca.  The 
ground  was  marshy,  and  at  first  the  Gepids  were 
beginning  to  win,  because  they  knew  the  place  better 
than  the  new-comers  ;  but  Theoderic's  own  bravery 
inspired  his  soldiers  with  such  enthusiasm  that  the 
defeat  was  changed  into  a  complete  victory.  The 
Gepids  had  to  forsake  the  field  in  confusion,  and  left 
behind  them  many  waggons  full  of  provisions,  which 
the  Ostrogoths  were  very  glad  to  get  hold  of 

After  the  victory  by  the  Ulca,  Theoderic  led  his 
people  along  the  river  Save,  and  then  over  the  steep 
passes  of  the  Julian  Alps.  But  however  impatient 
the  king  might  be  to  enter  on  his  future  kingdom,  it 
was  only  possible  to  move  very  slowly  forward,  for 
amongst  the  throng  were  many  thousands  of  women 
and  young  children,  and  more  than  once  sickness  broke 
out  amongst  them,  and  compelled  them  to  interrupt 
their  march.  And  so  it  was  not  until  nearly  a  year 
after  the  beginning  of  their  journey  that  the  Ostro- 
gothic  host  stood  ready  to  cross  the  Isonzo,  the 
boundary-river  of  Italy.  On  the  opposite  bank  of 
the  stream  they  saw  the  powerful  army  of  Odovacar 
encamped  to  prevent  their  passage. 

Theoderic's  soldiers  were  weakened  by  their  long 
journey  and  the  hardships  they  had  gone  through  on 


their  way,  but  they  still  proved  more  than  a  match  to 
Odovacar's  followers — a  disorderly  crowd  made  up  of 
a  number  of  petty  tribes,  whos'e  chiefs  scorned  to  obey 
the  orders  of  a  commander  whom  they  accounted  no 
nobler  than  themselves.  On  August  28,  489,  the 
Goths  forced  the  passage  of  the  river,  and  Odovacar 
retreated  to  Verona. 

After  giving  his  army  a  little  breathing-time, 
Theoderic  broke  up  his  camp  near  the  ruins  of  Aqui- 
leia,  and  set  out  to  make  a  second  attack  upon  the 
enemy.  It  was  on  the  30th  of  September  that  the 
great  battle  of  Verona  was  fought,  which  decided  the 
fate  of  Odovacar's  kingdom.  On  the  morning  ofrae 
battle  Theoderic  carefully  dressed  himself  in  his  most 
splendid  clothing,  ornamented  by  the  hands  of  his 
mother  and  his  sister,  saying  with  a  smile  that  he 
hoped  his  bravery  in  the  fight  would  show  who  he 
was,  but  at  any  rate  his  apparel  should  show  it. 
Odovacar's  men  fought  desperately,  and  the  losses  of 
the  Ostrogoths  were  enormous.  But  once  more  the 
king's  skilful  leadership,  and  the  animating  example 
of  his  own  dauntless  courage,  carried  the  day,  and 
Odovacar  fled  in  confusion.  With  the  remnant  of  his 
army  he  endeavoured  to  find  shelter  within  the  walls 
of  Rome  ;  but  the  senate  had  no  mind  to  side  with  a 
beaten  rebel  against  the  victorious  representative  of 
the  emperor,  and  ordered  the  gates  to  be  closed. 
Odovacar  then  marched  across  the  country,  burning 
villages  and  destroying  the  crops,  and  took  refuge 
in  the  impregnable  fortress  of  Ravenna.  Meanwhile 
Theoderic's  victory  had  placed  him  in  possession  of 
the  strong  cities  of  Verona  and   Milan,  and  he  soon 

148         HOW   THE   OSTROGOTHS   WON  ITALY. 

received  the  submission  of  a  large  portion  of  Odova- 
car's  army. 

Amongst  the  chiefs  who  deserted  to  Theoderic  was 
a  certain  Tufa,  who  had  held  a  high  command  in 
Odovacar's  army.  This  man  succeeded  in  thoroughly 
gaining  Theoderic's  confidence,  and  undertook,  if  he 
were  entrusted  with  a  large  body  of  men,  to  besiege 
Odovacar  in  Ravenna.  The  king  agreed  to  his 
proposal,  and  at  Tufa's  own  request  a  number  of 
Theoderic's  principal  officers  were  attached  to  the 
expedition.  But  before  he  reached  the  neighbour- 
hood of  Ravenna  Tufa  deserted  back  again  to  his 
former  sovereign,  and  Theoderic's  officers  were  loaded 
with  chains  and  sent  to  Odovacar,  by  whom  they 
were  kept  for  some  time  in  prison,  and  then  shame- 
fully murdered.  The  soldiers  who  had  submitted  to 
Theoderic  when  Odovacar's  cause  seemed  hopeless 
now  forsook  him  by  thousands,  and  joined  the  army 
of  Tufa.  For  a  time  it  seemed  as  if  the  tide  of  for- 
'tune  had  turned,  and  Odovacar  was,  after  all,  going 
to  recover  his  lost  dominions.  The  Ostrogoths  were 
compelled  to  abandon  Milan  and  Verona,  and  to 
retire  to  the  neighbourhood  of  Pavia. 

But  Odovacar  was  unable  to  follow  up  his  advan- 
tage. His  followers,  unlike  those  of  his  adversary, 
were  a  mere  band  of  mercenaries,  held  together  by 
no  tie  of  national  sentiment,  and  feeling  little  attach- 
ment to  the  person  of  their  leader.  They  soon  began 
to  desert  in  large  numbers  ;  and  the  quarrels  between 
the  generals  rendered  it  impossible  to  take  any 
effectual  action.  In  August,  490,  the  arrival  of  a 
body  of  Visigoths  sent  by  Alaric  of  Toulouse  enabled 


Theoderic  to  inflict  a  crushing  defeat  upon  his  enemy, 
and  before  very  long  Odovacar  was  closely  besieged 
in  Ravenna.  Just  about  this  time  it  is  said  that  an 
event  took  place  which  resembles  that  which  is  so 
gloomily  celebrated  in  English  history  under  the 
name  of  *'  St.  Brice's  day."  The  partisans  of  the 
emperor,  according  to  a  concerted  plan,  massacred 
the  supporters  of  Odovacar  all  over  Italy.  Before 
the  year  490  had  closed,  the  only  important  place  in 
Italy,  except  Ravenna  itself,  which  had  not  submitted 
to  Theoderic  was  the  seaport  of  Rimini  (Ariminum) 
on  the  Adriatic.  The  senate  at  Rome  despatched  its 
most  distinguished  member,  the  consul  Faustus,  to 
Constantinople,  to  ask  that  Theoderic  might  be  in- 
vested with  the  royal  robes,  and  be  authorized  to 
bear  the  title  of  king  of  Italy.  But  when  the  envoy 
arrived  at  Constantinople  the  emperor  Zeno  was 
breathing  his  last,  and  the  petition  seems  to  have 
remained  unanswered. 

It  was  not  till  the  blockade  of  Ravenna  had  lasted 
for  two  years  and  a  half  that  the  pressure  of  famine 
compelled  Odovacar  to  offer  terms  of  surrender.  The 
bishop  of  Ravenna  acted  as  mediator,  and  Theoderic 
was  so  tired  of  the  long  siege  that  he  was  glad  to 
agree  to  conditions  which  were  extravagantly  favour- 
able to  his  rival.  It  was  stipulated  that  Odovacar 
should  be  allowed  to  live  in  Ravenna  with  the  title  of 
king,  and  should  be  treated,  so  far  as  pomp  and 
ceremony  were  concerned,  as  the  equal  of  his  con- 
queror.^     His    son    Thelane,  whom    he   had    shortly 

'  It  was  believed  in  the  following  century  that  Theoderic  and  Odovacar 
agreed  to  reign  over  Italy  as  joint  sovereigns,  but  this  seems  incredible. 


before,  in  imitation  of  the  example  of  Orestes,  pro- 
claimed emperor  of  the  West,  were  delivered  up  to  the 
Ostrogoths  as  a  hostage,  and  on  March  5,  493,  Theo- 
deric  entered  the  city,  and  took  possession  of  the 
imperial  palace  in  "  the  Laurel-grove." 

The  two  kings  met  one  another  with  a  great  show 
of  friendliness,  but  before  many  days  had  passed 
Theoderic  heard  that  Odovacar  was  plotting  his 
assassination.  At  any  rate  that  was  what  he  said 
afterwards  to  justify  his  own  cruel  and  treacherous 
action.  On  the  15th  of  March  he  invited  his  rival 
to  a  banquet  at  the  "  Laurel-grove"  palace.  In  two 
side  chambers  to  the  right  and  the  left  of  the  seat 
which  the  royal  guest  was  to  occupy  he  placed  armed 
men,  who  were  instructed  on  hearing  a  certain  signal 
to  rush  out  and  cut  down  Odovacar  and  his  followers. 
As  soon  as  Odovacar  had  taken  his  seat,  two  soldiers 
of  Theoderic  approached  him,  pretending  that  they 
wished  to  ask  some  favour  from  him,  and  seizing  his 
hands  as  if  in  the  eagerness  of  their  entreaty.  The 
signal  was  given,  and  the  armed  men  came  into  the 
hall,  but  when  they  saw  that  their  business  was  to  be 
the  murder  of  a  defenceless  man,  and  not,  as  they  had 
expected,  the  frustration  of  an  attack  upon  their  own 
king,  they  stood  as  if  stupefied.  Theoderic  then  drew 
his  sword,  and  raised  it  to  strike  Odovacar.  "  Where 
is  God  ?  "  exclaimed  the  unhappy  victim.  "  This  is 
how  you  treated  my  friends  !  "  shouted  Theoderic, 
and  dealt  him  such  a  violent  blow  on  the  collar-bone 
that  the  body  was  almost  cut  in  two.  Theoderic 
looked  with  astonishment  at  the  effect  of  his  stroke, 
and  said  with  an  inhuman  sneer,  "  The  poor  wretch 


must  have  had  no  bones."  Thus  died  Odovacar,  at 
the  age  of  sixty  years.  He  was  buried  outside  the 
city,  in  a  piece  of  ground  which  was  close  to  the  Jews 
synagogue,  and  was  deemed  to  be  polluted  by  the 
neighbourhood  of  infidel  worship.  His  wife,  Suni- 
gilda,  was  starved  to  death  in  prison,  and  his  son  was 
sent  as  a  prisoner  to  King  Alaric  at  Toulouse,  but 
afterwards  escaped  to  Italy  and  was  there  killed. 

We  have  told  this  sad  story  of  Odovacar's  end  as  it 
is  related  by  a  historian  of  the  seventh  century.  It 
contains  some  things  that  sound  rather  improbable, 
and  we  would  fain  hope  that  some  of  the  circum- 
stances of  treachery  and  brutality  have  been  exag- 
gerated. When  we  think  how  gloriously  Theoderic 
reigned  over  Italy  for  thirty-three  years,  how  he 
laboured  to  secure  the  happiness  of  his  subjects,  and 
how  Goths  and  Romans  alike  acknowledged  the 
even-handed  justice  of  his  rule,  we  cannot  help 
believing  that  the  act  by  which  he  gained  his  king- 
dom was  not  altogether  the  cold-blooded  treason 
which  his  account  represents  it  to  have  been.  Noth- 
ing that  we  know  of  Odovacar,  on  the  other  hand, 
forbids  us  to  think  him  capable  of  plotting  the  murder 
of  the  rival  with  whom  he  had  sworn  peace  and 
friendship.  If  Theoderic  had  indeed  discovered  evi- 
dence of  such  a  plot  we  can  scarcely  wonder  that  he 
should  be  moved  to  take  violent  means  to  render  its 
execution  impossible.  But  whatever  may  be  said  in 
palliation  of  the  murder  of  Odovacar,  we  cannot  help 
feeling  sorry  that  the  reign  of  the  great  Theoderic 
should  have  begun  with  this  fierce  and  lawless  deed, 



Once  more  we  have  to  l^-ment  the  truth  of  Milton's 
saying,  that  the  victories  of  peace  are  "less  renowned  " 
than  those  of  war.  Far  more  interesting,  if  it  could 
only  be  told,  than  the  records  of  all  the  battles  which 
Theoderic  ever  won,  would  be  the  story  of  the  peaceful 
achievements  which  followed.  By  what  means  the 
Gothic  usurper  succeeded  in  giving  order  and  pros- 
perity to  the  land  so  long  the  prey  of  lawlessness  and 
oppression,  by  what  arts  he  so  won  the  hearts  of  his 
subjects,  both  Romans  and  Goths,  that  when  he  died 
he  was  mourned  as  no  ruler  had  been  for  centuries 
past,  are  questions  which  history  gives  us  very  im- 
perfect answers. 

The  earliest  act  of  Theoderic's  which  we  read  of 
after  the  death  of  Odovacar  did  not  seem  to  promise 
well  for  the  wisdom  and  gentleness  of  his  rule.  He 
published  an  edict  by  which  all  those  Romans  who 
had  in  any  way  exhibited  any  sympathy  with 
Odovacar  against  himself  should  be  deprived  of  their 
privileges  as  citizens,  including  the  right  of  disposing 
of  their  own  property  by  will.  This  measure  was  felt 
to  be  a  great  injustice,  because  many  of  those  whom 
it   affected   had   supported   the   cause   of    Odovacar 

A    SAINTLY   BISHOP.  1 53 

under  compulsion,  and  were  quite  ready,  if  treated 
with  kindness  and  consideration,  to  become  faithful 
subjects  of  the  new  king. 

Fortunately  the  sufferers  by  this  edict  found  a 
powerful  intercessor.  When,  during  the  war  with 
Odovacar,  Theoderic  had  taken  up  his  quarters  in  the 
city  of  Pavia,  he  had  had  a  great  deal  of  intercourse 
with  the  bishop  Epiphanius,  and,  though  the  bishop 
was  a  Catholic,  the  holiness  of  his  character  had 
inspired  in  the  king's  mind  the  profoundest  venera- 
tion. "  There  is  not  such  a  man  in  all  the  east," 
Theoderic  said  ;  "  it  is  a  privilege  even  to  have  seen 
him."  It  was  this  venerable  man  whom  the  Romans 
begged  to  plead  their  cause.  Accompanied  by  Lau- 
rentius,  bishop  of  Milan,  he  journeyed  to  Ravenna, 
and  sought  an  audience  of  the  king,  who  received  him 
with  every  mark  of  honour,  and  listened  with  great 
attention  to  his  speech.  Epiphanius  reminded  Theo- 
deric (not  without  some  dexterous  flattery  mingled 
with  his  admonitions)  of  the  many  signs  of  Divine 
favour  which  had  attended  his  career  in  Italy,  and 
exhorted  him  to  testify  his  gratitude  by  imitating  the 
Divine  example  of  mercy.  He  urged  that  Odovacar 
had  fallen  because  of  the  harshness  and  injustice  of 
his  rule,  and  counselled  Theoderic  to  be  warned  by 
the  fate  of  his  predecessor,  concluding  with  an  appeal 
which  might  almost  be  translated  in  the  familiar 
words  : 

"  Consider  this, 
That  in  the  course  of  justice  none  of  us 
Should  see  salvation  :  we  do  pray  for  rriercy, 
And  that  same  prayer  doth  teach  us  all  to  render 
The  deeds  of  mercy." 

154  ^^^    WISDOM   OF   THEODERIC. 

There  was  a  pause  of  some  moments  after  the 
bishop  had  spoken,  and  every  one  present  awaited 
the  king's  reply  with  deep  anxiety.  Theoderic  began 
by  saying  that  it  was  not  always  that  the  necessities 
of  government  permitted  of  the  exercise  of  mercy, 
and  by  appealing  to  the  Scriptural  example  of  Saul, 
who  incurred  the  Divine  wrath  by  his  ill-timed  com- 
passion for  a  vanquished  enemy.  But  he  added  that 
as  heaven  itself  yielded  to  the  bishop's  prayers,  no 
mere  earthly  power  could  resist  them  :  and  he  ordered 
his  secretary  to  prepare  a  decree  of  general  amnesty. 

Theoderic  certainly  could  have  taken  no  better 
means  of  winning  the  goodwill  of  his  new  subjects. 
And  the  fact  that  this  act  of  mercy  had  been  granted 
to  the  entreaties  of  a  Catholic  bishop  made  a  great 
impression  on  the  minds  of  the  Catholics,  and  did 
much  to  soften  the  prejudice  which  was  naturally 
felt  against  the  heretic  king. 

After  this  question  was  decided,  Theoderic  had  a 
private  conversation  with  Epiphanius,  in  which  he 
spoke  of  the  deep  grief  he  felt  on  account  of  the 
wretched  condition  into  which  Italy  had  been  brought 
by  continual  war.  He  referred  especially  to  the  mis- 
fortunes which  had  befallen  the  bishop's  own  northern 
diocese  through  the  invasion  of  the  Burgunds,  who,  in 
490,  had  carried  away  large  numbers  of  the  peasantry 
as  prisoners  into  Gaul.  ''  I  know,"  said  Theoderic  to 
the  bishop,  "that  Gundobad,  king  of  the  BurgundS) 
has  a  great  desire  to  see  you  ;  if  you  go  to  plead  the 
cause  of  the  Italian  captives  he  will  be  persuaded  to 
set  them  free,  and  I  will  supply  you  with  money 
sufficient  for  their  ransom." 


Epiphanius  was  moved  to  tears  by  this  proof  of  the 
king's  interest  in  the  people  whose  welfare  lay  so  near 
to  his  own  heart.  He  eagerly  accepted  the  commis- 
sion that  was  offered  to  him,  and  at  once  set  out, 
braving  the  bitter  cold  of  March,  across  the  Alps  to 
visit  King  Gundobad  at  Lyons.  The  king  received 
him  graciously,  and  granted  the  free  release  of  all 
those  captives  who  were  under  his  own  control. 
Those  who  were  slaves  belonging  to  private  persons 
had  to  be  ransomed  with  Theoderic's  gold.  From 
Lyons  the  bishop  went  to  Geneva,  where  he  had  the 
same  success  with  the  other  Burgund  king  Godegisel ; 
and  he  was  accompanied  to  Italy  by  many  thousands 
of  the  rescued  captives,  who  returned  to  bring  back  to 
fertility  their  long-deserted  fields,  and,  we  may  be 
sure,  to  invoke  blessings  on  the  name  of  their  deliverer 
Theoderic.  Not  to  leave  his  work  incomplete,  the 
king  bestowed  large  gifts  of  seed-corn  and  of  cattle 
upon  the  returned  peasants. 

The  first  great  problem  that  the  king  had  to 
encounter  was  how  to  satisfy  the  claims  of  his 
Gothic  soldiers  for  lands  in  reward  of  their  services, 
without  exciting  rebellion  amongst  the  Roman  pro- 
prietors at  whose  expense  these  grants  were  made. 
It  was,  however,  fortunate  for  Theoderic  that  his 
predecessor  had  already  despoiled  the  Roman  land- 
owners of  a  third  of  their  estates,  so  that  for  the  most 
part  the  Goths  had  only  to  step  into  possession  of  the 
share  which  Odovacar's  men  had  held,  and  the  Roman 
lord  was  no  poorer  than  he  had  been  for  thirteen  years 
previously.  The  king,  moreover,  wisely  placed  the 
carrying  out  of  this  measure  for  the  Gothic  settlement 


in  the  hands  of  a  distinguished  Roman  named  Liberius, 
who  had  been  one  of  Odovacar's  ministers,  and  who 
knew  how  to  manage  the  matter  so  as  to  spare  his 
countrymen's  feelings  as  much  as  possible.  Theoderic 
had  a  great  respect  for  Liberius,  and,  in  a  letter  to  the 
senate  some  time  after  his  death,  he  praises  him 
especially  for  his  honesty  in  never  concealing  his  grief 
for  Odovacar  in  order  to  curry  favour  with  Odovacar's 
enemy  and  successor.  Only  a  man  of  real  nobleness 
of  mind  would  have  singled  out  such  a  characteristic 
for  praise  in  a  public  document,  and  this  is  one  of  the 
many  things  which  lead  us  to  believe  that  the  deed 
by  which  Theoderic  gained  the  crown  was  not  the 
shameful  treachery  that  it  is  recorded  to  have  been. 
Theoderic  goes  on  to  say  that  the  goodwill  and 
harmony  which  existed  between  Goths  and  Romans 
was  very  largely  due  to  the  tact  and  skill  with  which 
Liberius  conducted  the  division  of  the  estates  and  the 
apportionment  of  the  burdens  of  taxation. 

Although  Theoderic  did  not  care  to  run  the  risk  of 
offending  both  his  Goths  and  the  Court  of  Constanti- 
nople by  calling  himself  Caesar  or  Emperor,  yet  those 
titles  would  have  exactly  expressed  the  character  of 
his  rule — so  far  at  least  as  his  Roman  subjects  were 
concerned.  When  the  Emperor  Anastasius  in  497 
acknowledged  him  as  ruler  of  Italy,  he  sent  him  the 
purple  cloak  and  the  diadem  of  the  Western  emperors ; 
and  the  act  showed  that  Anastasius  quite  understood 
the  difference  between  Theoderic's  government  and 
that  of  Odovacar.  In  fact,  though  not  in  name,  the 
Western  empire  had  been  restored  with  much  the 
same  institutions  as  it  had  had  under  the  best  of  the 



C^sars.  Although  the  army  was  Gothic,  the  great 
offices  of  state  were  filled  by  Romans,  and  the  senate, 
if  it  had  less  real  power  than  it  had  sometimes 
managed  to  obtain  under  weaker  sovereigns,  was 
treated  with  a  show  of  respect  and  deference  which 
was  some  consolation  for  its  political  insignificance. 
Its  members  were  appointed  to  act  as  judges  in  the 
courts,  and  in  all  cases  in  which  Romans  were  con- 
cerned the  Roman  law  still  retained  its  authority. 

One  great  evil  from  which  the  Roman  Empire  had 
suffered  for  many  reigns  past  was  the  illegal  exactions 
on  the  part  of  the  officers  entrusted  with  the  collec- 
tion of  revenue.  So  long  as  the  emperors  could  raise 
the  money  they  wanted,  they  had  cared  little  how 
their  officials  might  enrich  themselves  by  extortion. 
Theoderic  kept  a  strict  watch  on  the  conduct  of  his 
officials.  All  persons  who  had  grievances  against  them 
were  encouraged  to  bring  forward  their  complaints  ; 
rigorous  inquiries  were  made,  and  the  accused,  if  found 
guilty,  were  severely  punished.  It  was  the  king's 
special  study  so  to  apportion  the  taxes  that  the  burden 
fell  as  equally  as  possible,  and — unlike  the  Eastern 
emperors  of  the  same  period,  who  were  notorious  for 
always  exacting  "  the  uttermost  farthing  " — he  was 
always  ready  to  grant  exemptions  or  reductions  of 
taxation  to  districts  that  were  suffering  from  bad 
harvests  or  similar  causes  of  distress.  The  official 
letters  of  Theoderic's  secretary  Cassiodorus  make  us 
acquainted  with  many  of  these  timely  acts  of  gene- 
rosity, which  contributed  more  than  anything  else  to 
make  the  Roman  subjects  submit  gladly  to  the  rule  of 
the  barbarian  king.      One  interesting  instance  of  the 


same  kind  is  known  to  us  from  another  source,  the 
biography  of  Epiphanius,  the  Catholic  bishop  of  Pavia, 
whom  we  have  already  spoken  of  as  being  greatly 
respected  by  Theoderic.  In  the  year  496  the  people 
of  Epiphanius's  diocese  had  had  their  crops  destroyed 
by  floods,  and  the  good  bishop  once  more  journeyed 
to  Ravenna  to  plead  the  cause  of  his  beloved  flock. 
Theoderic  listened  with  sympathy  to  the  story  of  the 
sufferings  of  the  people,  and  though  he  talked  a  good 
deal  about  the  difficulties  that  lay  in  the  way  of 
making  a  sacrifice  of  revenue,  he  gladdened  the 
bishop's  heart  by  consenting  to  reduce  the  taxes  for 
that  year  to  one-third  of  their  amount.  Epiphanius 
returned  to  Pavia  with  the  good  news,  but  the  re- 
joicings of  his  people  were  soon  mixed  with  sorrow, 
for  a  few  days  after  his  arrival  he  died  from  the  effects 
of  a  cold  taken  during  his  journey. 

The  one  great  obstacle  to  Theoderic's  popularity 
was  that  he  was  an  Arian,  while  the  great  mass  of  his 
Roman  subjects  were  Catholics.  But  in  his  govern- 
ment he  never  allowed  himself  to  make  any  difference 
between  the  two  parties.  One  of  his  most  honoured 
Gothic  generals,  Ibba,  was  a  Catholic  ;  and  the  Catholic 
clergy,  if  they  were  by  their  character  worthy  of  their 
office,  were  regarded  by  him  with  as  much  respect 
as  those  of  his  own  creed.  This  tolerant  conduct  was 
not  merely  adopted  because  Theoderic  feared  to  offend 
the  Catholics.  He  had  really  a  profound  conviction 
of  the  truth,  known  to  so  few  in  his  age,  that  kings 
have  no  right  to  meddle  with  the  religious  faith  of 
their  subjects,  and  that  persecution,  though  it  may 
make  men  hypocrites,  will  never  make  them  sincere 


believers.  The  best  proof  that  Theoderic's  toleration 
was  a  matter  of  principle  is  seen  in  his  conduct 
towards  the  Jews.  Ever  since  the  Roman  Empire 
had  become  Christian,  this  unhappy  people  had  been 
subjected  to  cruel  persecution,  and  even  the  Visigoths 
in  Gaul  had  shamefully  oppressed  them.  If  Theoderic 
had  followed  this  bad  example  he  would  no  doubt 
have  been  applauded  both  by  the  Romans  and  by 
many  of  his  own  countrymen.  But  he  had  courage 
and  firmness  enough  not  only  to  announce  publicly 
that  "  the  benefits  of  justice  are  not  to  be  denied  even 
to  those  who  err  from  the  faith,"  but  to  act  up  to  this 
maxim  in  the  most  uncompromising  manner.  In  one 
instance  a  Jew  at  Rome  had  been  murdered  by  his 
Christian  slaves.  The  perpetrators  of  the  crime  were 
condemned  to  death.  The  people  of  the  city  could 
hardly  believe  that  such  a  monstrous  sentence  would 
be  carried  out,  and,  when  the  execution  actually  took 
place,  the  mob  made  a  furious  attack  on  the  Jews,  and 
burnt  their  synagogue.  The  offenders  were  brought 
before  the  senate  for  trial,  and  pleaded  the  many  acts 
of  extortion  of  which  they  said  the  Jews  had  been 
guilty.  They  were  told  that  these  complaints  were 
nothing  to  the  purpose  ;  if  the  Jews  had  acted  illegally 
the  courts  were  open,  but  acts  of  violence  would  meet 
with  due  punishment,  whether  committed  upon  Jew 
or  Gentile.  Another  case  of  synagogue  burning 
occurred  at  Ravenna,  and  in  that  instance  the  build- 
ing had  to  be  restored  at  the  expense  of  those  who 
had  destroyed  it,  while  those  of  the  offenders  who  had 
not  means  to  pay  were  whipped  through  the  streets. 
In   some  places  the  Jews  had  been  robbed  of  their 



synagogues  by  Christian  priests,  who  had  converted 
the  buildings  Into  churches,  and  now  argued  that 
twenty  or  thirty  years'  possession  gave  a  title  to  the 
ownership.  But  Theoderic  would  listen  to  no  such 
reasoning  ;  the  churches  had  to  be  restored  to  their 
original  use,  notwithstanding  all  the  fierce  indignation 
dF  the  Christians,  few  of  whom  had  any  sympathy 
with  the  spirit  of  the  text,  "  I  hate  robbery  for  burnt- 
oiTering."  It  is  true  that  Theoderic,  or  his  secretary, 
when  writing  to  the  Jews  to  announce  some  conces- 
sion or  act  of  justice  In  their  favour,  generally  takes 
the  opportunity  to  lecture  them  on  the  sin  of  unbelief, 
and  to  express  compassion  for  their  gloomy  prospects 
in  the  next  world.  But  he  is  always  careful  to  add 
that  their  perversity  in  this  respect  Is  no  reason  for 
treating  them  with  injustice.  One  of  his  letters  written 
on  an  occasion  of  this  kind  ends  with  the  significant 
words,  "  Religion  is  not  a  thing  which  we  can  com- 
mand, because  no  man  can  be  compelled  to  believe 
against  his  will."  It  is  to  Theoderic's  eternal  honour 
that  he  was  willing  to  brave  the  fierce  Indignation  of 
the  vast  majority  of  his  subjects  for  the  sake  of  doing 
justice  to  a  weak  and  oppressed  people. 

We  have  already  said  that  Theoderic,  though  bear- 
ing the  title  only  of  king,  aspired  to  fulfil  the  perfect 
Ideal  of  a  Roman  Caesar.  He  did  not  neglect  to 
display  the  bounty  and  magnificence  which  were 
appropriate  to  the  character.  You  remember  how 
"  Bread  and  Circus  games  "  was  the  demand  which  the 
Roman  populace  used  to  make  of  their  rulers  in  the 
palmy  days  of  the  empire.  It  was  long  since  these 
demands  had  been  satisfied   by  imperial  generosity, 

*' BREAD   AND    CIRCUS  GAMES.''  l6l 

but  now  once  more  the  poor  of  Rome  and  the  other 
Italian  cities  received  their  periodical  gifts  of  food, 
and  the  public  spectacles  were  exhibited  with  some- 
thing like  their  ancient  splendour,  though  happily 
without  the  cruel  fights  of  gladiators,  in  which  the 
heathen  world  delighted.  The  king  himself  took  great 
pleasure  in  the  theatre  and  in  exhibitions  of  gymnastic 

To  those  who  are  accustomed  to  regard  "  the 
Goths"  as  tasteless  destroyers  of  the  vestiges  of 
ancient  civilization,  it  will  seem  strange  to  be  told 
of  the  extraordinary  zeal  which  Theoderic  displayed 
in  the  preservation  of  the  buildings  and  statues  of 
antiquity.  But  perhaps  there  had  never  been  a 
Roman  emperor  who  was  so  anxiously  concerned 
about  this  matter  as  this  barbarian  king.  In  the 
official  letters  of  his  secretary  Cassiodorus  we  find 
continual  proofs  of  Theoderic's  endeavours  to  arrest 
the  destruction  of  the  works  of  ancient  art.  Judging 
him  by  his  conduct  in  this  respect,  we  might  fairly 
say  that  he  was  the  first  civilized  ruler  that  Italy  had 
had  for  centuries.  The  Christian  emperors  had  allowed 
their  subjects  to  use  the  temples  and  other  public 
edifices  of  heathen  days  as  quarries  for  their  own 
buildings,  and  not  seldom  had  they  been  themselves 
guilty  of  pulling  down  venerable  historical  monu- 
ments to  erect  new  buildings  in  their  place.  Theoderic 
indignantly  forbade  this  work  of  waste  and  ruin.  He 
was  himself  a  great  builder,  and  bestowed  honours 
and  rewards  freely  on  those  who  adorned  the  cities 
with  splendid  works  of  architecture  ;  but  it  was  a 
saying  of  his  that  "  reverently  to  preserve  the  old  was 

[Commenced  by  Theoderic  in  525  ;  completed  under  PVitigis  in  539  ) 


even  better  than  to  build  afresh."  Except  an  act  of 
extortion  or  oppression  on  the  part  of  one  of  his  own 
officials,  nothing  excited  his  anger  so  fiercely  as  any 
wanton  destruction  of  works  of  art.  On  one  occasion 
he  was  informed  that  a  bronze  statue  had  been  stolen 
from  a  public  place  at  Como  during  the  night.  In  hot 
haste  he  writes  to  Thankila  the  senator  (from  his 
name  evidently  a  Gothic  officer,  and  apparently 
governor  of  the  city),  ordering  him  to  offer  a  reward  of 
a  hundred  gold  pieces  for  the  discovery  of  the  perpe- 
trator, and  to  have  a  strict  inquiry  made  of  all  the 
metal  smiths  of  the  town,  as  it  was  probable  that  such 
a  theft  could  not  have  been  carried  out  without 
skilled  assistance.  This  letter  was  promptly  followed 
by  another,  in  which  a  free  pardon  was  offered  to  the 
guilty  person  if  he  confessed  and  made  restitution, 
otherwise,  in  the  event  of  a  discovery,  the  penalty 
was  to  be  death.  In  the  year  500  Theoderic  spent 
six  months  at  Rome,  and  in  his  letters  he  often  refers 
to  the  profound  admiration  which  had  been  inspired 
in  him  by  the  contemplation  of  th6  treasures  of 
ancient  art.  The  grandeur  of  the  forum  of  Trajan, 
especially,  is  often  mentioned  by  him.  While  at 
Rome,  he  decreed  that  a  sum  of  200  pounds  weight 
of  gold  (£8,000  sterling,  or  40,000  dollars)  should  be 
set  apart  every  year  for  the  repair  of  the  walls  and 
the  public  buildings.  It  used  to  be  the  fashion  to 
blame  "  the  Goths  "  for  the  destruction  of  the  monu- 
ments of  ancient  Rome  ;  but  the  truth  is  that  we  are 
indebted  to  a  Gothic  king  for  the  preservation  of 
many  a  noble  building  which,  but  for  his  pious  care, 
would  have  totally  disappeared. 


Theoderic  was  earnestly  desirous  that  his  reign 
should  be  distinguished,  not  only  as  a  period  in  which 
the  ancient  masterpieces  were  protected  and  valued, 
but  also  as  a  period  of  original  artistic  productiveness. 
In  this  it  was  impossible  for  him  to  succeed,  for  in  the 
many  years  of  misery  and  disorder  from  which  Italy, 
and  the  Roman  world  generally,  had  suffered,  the 
nobler  arts  had  fallen  into  hopeless  decline.  But  at 
any  rate  he  spared  no  labour  or  cost  in  seeking  out 
and  rewarding  the  best  architects,  sculptors,  and 
painters  that  could  be  found  ;  and  one  branch  of  art, 
namely,  mosaic-work,  may  be  said  to  have  attained  per- 
haps its  highest  level  in  his  reign.  When  we  read  of  the 
enormous  number  of  works  which  Theoderic  carried 
out — building  of  churches,  theatres,  palaces,  public 
baths,  not  only  in  Rome,  Ravenna,  and  Verona,  the 
three  capitals  of  his  kingdom^  but  in  many  of  the 
smaller  cities  of  Italy — we  are  at  first  tempted  to 
accuse  him  of  recklessly  lavish  expenditure  ;  but  we 
are  informed  that  although  he  found  the  treasury 
deeply  in  debt,  his  wise  management  not  only  enabled 
him  to  find  money  for  all  these  costly  undertakings, 
but  to  leave  the  finances  of  the  kingdom  in  a 
thoroughly  prosperous  condition. 

Although  Theoderic  was  not  so  ignorant  of  books 
as  he  is  commonly  said  to  have  been,  it  is  not  likely 
that  he  had  any  great  appreciation  of  literature.  But 
to  protect  and  encourage  literature  was  part  of  the 
duty  of  a  pattern  Roman  emperor,  and  Theoderic 
was  not  wanting  in  this  respect.  The  age  was  one  of 
miserable  degeneracy,  in  letters  even  more  than  in 
art ;    but  the  principal   writers  and  scholars  of  the 


time,  such  as  they  were,  were  all  rewarded  by  Theo- 
deric  with  honours  and  official  rank.  There  was 
Cassiodorus,  whom  he  made  his  "  quaestor  "  and  sec- 
retary of  state — an  orator,  historian,  theologian,  and 
grammarian,  many  of  whose  waitings  still  exist. 
Poor  enough  in  literary  merit  they  certainly  are,  but 
they  show  a  good  knowledge  of  classical  literature, 
and  give  us  besides  a  very  favourable  impression  of 
the  author's  upright  and  kindly  character.  His 
twelve  books  of  official  letters,  written  in  the  names 
of  Theoderic  and  his  successors,  are  of  great  value  to 
the  historian,  though  they  are  perhaps  the  most 
bombastic  State  papers  ever  known  in  Europe,  not 
excepting  the  Latin  charters  of  some  of  the  Anglo- 
Saxon  kings.  One  work  of  his  which  has  unfortu- 
nately perished  in  his  "  History  of  the  Goths,"  of 
which  the  history  by  Jordanes,  so  often  quoted  in 
the  early  part  of  this  book,  is  a  very  clumsy  abridge- 
ment. Jordanes  says  that  he  had  managed  to  get  a 
loan  of  Cassiodorus's  history  for  three  days,  and  that 
his  own  book  was  written  chiefly  from  the  hasty 
notes  he  had  been  able  to  make  in  that  time. 

There  was  also  Symmachus,  famed  in  his  own 
day  for  learning  and  eloquence,  the  author  of  a 
Roman  history  in  seven  books,  which  has  not  been 
preserved.  Theoderic  gave  him  the  office  of  Prefect 
of  the  city  of  Rome  and  of  patrican.  We  shall  in  a 
future  chapter  have  to  tell  how  Symmachus  was  put 
to  death  on  suspicion  of  treason,  sharing  the  fate 
of  his  more  renowned  son-in-law,  the  philosopher 

Of  Boethius  himself  there  is  much  more  to  be  said, 


for  he  is  by  far  the  greatest  literary  name  of  Theo- 
deric's  reign,  or  indeed  of  the  whole  sixth  century. 
Of  noble  rank,  and  born  to  great  wealth,  he  devoted 
his  leisure  to  the  study  of  science,  and  to  the  task  of 
rendering  the  treasures  of  Greek  learning  accessible 
to  his  countrymen.  It  was  from  his  translations  and 
commentaries  that  the  Western  world  became  ac- 
quainted with  the  writings  of  Aristotle  on  logic,  which 
had  so  powerful  an  influence  that  they  set  all  the 
great  minds  of  Europe,  for  eight  or  nine  centuries, 
studying  nothing  else  than  the  theory  of  reasoning 
and  subtle  questions  of  metaphysics,  which  were 
profitless  because  unanswerable,  even  if  they  had  any 
rational  meaning  at  all.  He  also  translated  Greek 
treatises  on  music,  astronomy,  and  mathematics  ;  he 
wrote  poetry  and  books  on  theological  controversy, 
and  his  skill  in  mechanics  was  greater  than  that  of 
any  man  of  his  time.  When  quite  a  young  man  he 
was  made,  by  Theoderic,  consul  and  patrician,  and 
afterwards  "  Master  of  the  Offices  "  ;  and  for  many 
years  there  was  no  man  whom  the  king  more  deeply 
honoured  and  esteemed.  How  this  career  of  pros- 
perity and  dignity  came  to  a  sudden  end — how  Boe- 
thius  was  accused  of  treason,  judged  guilty,  and 
condemned  to  death — we  shall  relate  further  on. 

Theoderic's  great  anxiety,  however,  was  to  restore 
to  Italy  its  long-lost  material  prosperity  and  plenty. 
Of  course  when  the  country  was  firmly  and  justly 
ruled,  and  the  people  had  protection  against  violence 
and  fraud,  there  was  very  soon  a  revival  of  agricul- 
ture and  trade.  Theoderic  was  eager  to  help  on  this 
revival  by  active  means.     He  encouraged  the  opening 


of  iron  mines  in  Dalmatia,  and  gold  mines  in  the  south 
of  Italy.  He  assisted  the  development  of  the  shipbuild- 
ing and  fishing  industries.  He  promoted  the  draining 
of  the  marshes  at  Terracina  and  Spoleto,  and  granted 
the  reclaimed  land,  free  from  taxes,  to  those  who  had 
borne  the  cost  of  the  undertaking.  He  spent  large 
sums  yearly  in  the  repair  of  the  highways,  and  in  the 
restoration  of  the  old  aqueducts  and  the  building  of 
new  ones.  The  extortions  of  the  custom-house 
officers,  which  in  the  days  of  the  empire  (as  Cassio- 
dorus  says)  "  foreign  merchants  had  dreaded  more 
than  shipwreck,"  were  now  firmly  put  down,  and  the 
import  duties  were  assessed  by  a  committee,  among 
whose  members  were  the  bishop  and  several  influen- 
tial citizens  of  the  seaport  town.  A  uniform  standard 
of  weights  and  measures  was  introduced  ;  the  coinage, 
which  had  been  debased,  was  restored  to  its  proper 
value,  and  the  uttering  of  false  money  was  severely 

Some  other  things  which  Theoderic  did  with  the 
same  object  do  not  seem  to  have  been  equally  well 
advised.  He  appointed  in  every  town  a  committee, 
consisting  of  the  bishop  and  some  of  the  citizens,  to 
fix  the  price  of  articles  of  food,  and  inflicted  severe 
punishment  on  all  tradesmen  who  ventured  to  charge 
higher  rates.  The  exporting  of  corn  from  Italy  was 
forbidden  under  heavy  penalties  ;  and  if  a  corn  mer- 
chant was  found  "speculating  for  a  rise,"  as  it  is 
called,  that  is  to  say,  buying  up  a  large  quantity  of 
grain  when  it  was  cheap,  in  order  to  sell  it  at  a  great 
profit  when  it  became  dearer,  the  king  compelled 
him  to  sell  out  his  stock  immediately  at  cost  price. 


No  doubt  these  measures  did  more  harm  than  good  ; 
but  they  were  well  meant,  and  show  how  zealously 
Theoderic  strove  to  promote  the  welfare  of  his  sub- 
jects, especially  of  the  poorer  part  of  them.  And  on 
the  whole  his  philanthropic  policy  was  wonderfully 
successful.  In  after  times  people  looked  back  to  the 
reign  of  Theoderic  as  to  a  period  of  almost  fabulous 
plenty  and  prosperity. 

So  much  for  Theoderic's  relations  with  his  Roman 
subjects.  With  the  Goths  his  relations  were  to  some 
extent  different.  Though  they  lived  amongst  the 
Romans,  the  Goths  did  not  become  blended  with 
them  ;  they  were  still  a  separate  nation,  with  their 
separate  laws  and  a  separate  system  of  government. 
Just  as  in  their  earlier  days,  the  army  and  the  nation 
were  really  the  same  thing  ;  the  officers  who  led  the 
people  in  war  judged  and  ruled  them  in  peace.  It 
must  be  remembered  that  Theoderic  had  no  soldiers 
except  his  Goths ;  the  native  Italians  were  not 
allowed  to  enter  the  army.  The  Goths  of  each 
province  were  governed  by  a  military  chief,  called 
the  "  Count  of  the  Goths,"  who  in  time  of  peace  was 
accountable  only  to  the  king  himself.  When  a  law- 
suit arose  between  Goth  and  Goth,  it  was  judged  by 
the  count,  according  to  Gothic  law ;  while  cases 
between  Goth  and  Roman  were  tried  before  the  count 
and  a  Roman  judge  sitting  together. 

But  still  the  political  constitution  of  the  Ostro- 
gothic  kingdom  had  undergone  a  great  change. 
The  Gothic  warriors  had  gained  a  settled  home, 
lands,  and  money  ;  but  they  had  paid  for  these 
advantages   by   the   loss   of    their   ancient   freedom. 


Their  popular  assembly  met  no  more  to  make  laws 
or  to  decide  the  policy  of  the  State.  The  king  acted 
as  he  chose,  without  asking  their  advice  or  consent. 
Over  Goths  as  well  as  Romans,  though  under  dif- 
ferent forms,  Theoderic  reigned  as  a  despot — a  just 
and  merciful  despot,  indeed,  but  a  despot  neverthe- 
less. Although,  as  we  have  said,  the  two  nations 
were  governed  in  the  main  according  to  their  own 
laws,  Theoderic  issued  a  brief  code  of  his  own,  which 
so  far  as  its  provisions  extended  was  binding  both  on 
Romans  and  Goths.  This  code  was  chiefly  founded 
on  the  law  of  the  Roman  Empire,  but  many  points  in 
it  are  plainly  of  Theoderic's  own  devising.  No  offences, 
we  can  well  believe,  were  so  hateful  to  the  Gothic 
king's  justice-loving  soul  as  the  taking  of  bribes  by 
judges  and  the  bringing  of  false  accusations  of  crime. 
The  first  of  these,  under  the  Roman  law,  had  been 
punished  by  transportation  to  an  island  and  confis- 
cation of  property.  Theoderic  (who  significantly 
makes  it  the  subject  of  the  very  first  paragraph  of 
his  edict)  decreed  that  the  penalty  should  be  death. 
The  emperors  had  already  -punished  the  false  accuser 
with  death  ;  in  the  new  law  he  is  ordered  to  be  burnt 
alive.  On  the  other  hand,  some  of  Theoderic's  alte- 
rations of  the  Roman  code  are  on  the  side  of  mercy. 
The  later  emperors  had  enacted  that  when  a  man 
was  condemned  for  any  crime,  his  property  should  be 
forfeited  to  the  State,  unless  he  had  parents  or 
children.  Theoderic  ordained  that  if  the  condemned 
man  had  relatives  as  far  as  the  third  degree  their 
right  to  inheritance  should  be  undisturbed. 

The  Ostrogoths  sometimes  murmured  over  the  loss 


of  their  freedom  ;  perhaps  they  may  sometimes  have 
been  indignant  at  the  severity  with  which  the  king 
punished  all  lawlessness  on  their  part,  all  insulting  or 
oppressive  conduct  towards  their  Italian  fellow- sub- 
jects. But  they  never  rebelled,  though  as  the  only 
armed  people  in  the  kingdom  they  had  every  oppor- 
tunity of  doing  so  successfully.  If  they  blamed  the 
king  for  taking  away  their  liberties,  they  could  not 
help  seeing  that  he  was  no  selfish  tyrant,  but  a  ruler 
who  laboured  zealously  and  wisely  for  the  common 
good  of  all.  If  he  was  stern  to  wrong-doers,  they 
knew  that  he  did  not  neglect  to  honour  and  reward 
faithful  service  ;  and  they  had  learned  to  value  the 
blessings  of  ordered  and  settled  life  too  well  to  think 
of  overthrowing  the  sovereign  to  whose  firmness  and 
sagacity  their  enjoyment  of  these  blessings  was  due. 

Theoderic  did  not,  as  has  sometimes  been  thought, 
endeavour  to  unite  the  Goths  and  the  Romans  into  one 
nation.  Perhaps  he  may  have  hoped  that  such  a  union 
would  at  some  time  be  realized  under  his  successors. 
But  in  his  own  day  he  was  content  that  the  two  peo- 
ples should  live  together  in  mutual  friendship  and 
respect,  each  of  them  being  charged  with  its  own 
special  function  in  the  commonwealth.  The  Goths 
were  to  undertake  the  defence  of  the  country  from 
attack,  the  maintenance  of  order,  and  the  execution 
of  the  law  ;  the  Romans  were  to  labour  for  the  de- 
velopment of  art  and  science  ;  while  in  the  cultivation 
of  the  soil  both  nations  were  to  take  their  part.  So 
long  as  Theoderic  lived  this  ideal  seems  to  have  been 
in  a  great  degree  realized.  ♦ 

It  is  no  wonder  that  Theoderic  became  the  subject 


of  many  fabulous  stones,  and  that  tradition  repre- 
sented his  reign  as  having  been  almost  a  kingdom 
of  heaven  upon  earth.  Even  before  the  sixth  century  / 
closed,  men  told  in  Italy  nearly  the  same  story  that 
was  told  in  England  respecting  the  days  of  Alfred — 
how  the  great  king  had  so  made  righteousness  to  pre- 
vail in  his  realm  that  gold  pieces  could  be  left  exposed 
on  the  highway  for  a  year  and  a  day  without  being 
stolen.  Many  of  his  sayings  were  quoted  as  proverbs 
in  the  land,  and  anecdotes  were  related  to  show  how, 
like  Solomon  in  the  matter  of  the  two  mothers  and 
their  infants,  Theoderic  had  displayed  in  the  judg- 
ment seat  his  wonderful  insight  into  human  nature. 
But  it  was  not  in  Italy  or  amongst  the  Goths  that 
his  legendary  fame  reached  its  highest  point.  The 
whole  Teutonic  race  regarded  his  glory  as  their  own, 
and  his  imagined  deeds  were  the  theme  of  popular 
songs  in  all  the  German  lands.  The  story  of  "  Diet- 
rich of  Bern  "  (the  High  German  way  of  pronouncing 
"  Theoderic  of  Verona ")  is  indeed,  as  told  in  the 
poems,  very  different  from  the  history  of  the  real 
Theoderic.  He  is  described  as  the  vassal  of  Attila 
and  the  foe  of  Ermanaric,  who  is  partly  confounded 
with  Odovacar  ;  and  in  some  of  the  songs  "Dietrich" 
is  even  represented  as  vanquished,  and  as  a  fugitive  or 
a  captive.  But  amid  all  this  strange  distortion  of  the 
history,  the  character  of  the  legendary  Dietrich  is 
essentially  that  of  the  Gothic  king.  A  lover  of  peace 
and  justice,  he  never  takes  the  sword  save  unwillingly 
and  at  the  call  of  duty;  but  when  he  is  once  prevailed 
upon  to  fight  there  is  none  more  fearless  and  more 
terrible  than  he.     The  traditions  embodied  in  popular 




poetry  are  generally  wildly  confused  with  regard  to 
the  order  of  events,  but  the  accounts  they  give  of  the 
characters  of  famous  men  are  often  wonderfully  true. 
Probably  it  is  not  without  good  reason  that  the  German 
songs  have  confounded  Odovacar  with  the  cruel  and 
treacherous  Ermanaric. 

The  reign  of  Theoderic  is  perhaps  the  finest  exam- 
ple in  all  history  of  what  is  called  a  "  beneficent 
despotism."  No  freer  system  of  government  could 
under  the  circumstances  have  produced  such  wonderful 
results  ;  perhaps  with  a  freer  system  Theoderic  could 
not  have  established  or  maintained  his  kingdom  at  all. 
But  the  efficiency  of  the  government  depended  wholly 
on  the  wisdom  and  energy  of  one  man,  and  it  might 
easily  have  been  foreseen  that  grave  troubles  would 
arise  when  the  sceptre  passed  into  weaker  hands.  For 
this  reason  a  great  historian  ^  has  described  Theoderic's 
whole  policy  as  "  a  blunder  of  genius  "  ;  and  we  can 
hardly  deny  that  this  harsh  and  exaggerated  judg- 
ment has  in  it  something  of  truth.  Even  the  great 
king  himself,  in  the  last  three  years  of  his  life,  when 
his  marvellous  vigour  of  mind  had  been  impaired  by 
age,  found  himself  involved  in  perplexities  with  which 
he  was  unable  to  deal.  But  the  sad  story  of  the  mis- 
takes that  tarnished  the  lustre  of  a  glorious  reign  must 
be  reserved  for  a  future  chapter. 

'  F.  Dahn. 




The  more  Italy  prospered  under  Theoderic's  wise 
and  kindly  rule,  the  more  she  became  a  tempting  prize 
to  the  ambition  of  foreign  kings.  Theoderic  knew 
this  well  ;  and  he  knew  besides  that  the  military 
strength  of  his  kingdom  was  after  all  only  small.  The 
Ostrogothic  army  was  far  inferior  in  numbers  to  that 
of  the  Franks  alone  ;  and  if  it  should  happen  that 
the  kings  of  Europe  should  discover  his  weakness,  and 
should  band  themselves  together  for  an  united  attack 
upon  the  kingdom,  there  was  little  hope  that  he  would 
be  able  to  resist  them  by  force  of  arms.  It  would  have 
been  of  no  avail  for  him  to  labour  for  the  well-being 
of  his  subjects,  if  a  foreign  conqueror  were  to  overrun 
the  land,  and  bring  to  ruin  the  fabric  of  order  and 
prosperity  which  he  had  raised.  And  if  even  if  he 
could  have  been  sure  of  vanquishing  every  foe  that 
came  against  him  in  the  field,  he  knew  that  the  suc- 
cess of  his  noble  plans  was  only  possible  so  long  as  he 
could  ensure  the  continuance  of  peace.  Famous  war- 
rior though  he  had  been  in  earlier  days,  no  visions  of 
military  glory  blinded  his  perception  of  what  was  his 
kingdom's  one  overwhelming  need. 

The  great  aim  of  Theoderic's  foreign   policy  was 


therefore  to  attach  all  the  Teutonic  kings  to  himself 
by  ties  of  friendship,  and  to  make  them  look  up  to 
him  as  a  superior,  with  whom  it  was  unwise  to  quarrel. 
He  connected  his  family  by  marriage  with  nearly  every 
royal  house  in  Europe.  His  sister  was  given  in  marriage 
to  Thrasamund,  king  of  the  Vandals,  and  his  niece  to 
the  Thuringian  king,  Ermanfrid.  One  of  his  daughters 
became  the  wife  of  Alaric  of  Toulouse,  and  another 
was  married  to  Sigismund,  the  heir,  and  afterwards  the 
successor  of  Gundobad,  king  of  the  Burgunds.  The 
mother  of  these  princesses,  who  does  not  seem  to  have 
been  regarded  as  Theoderic's  lawful  wife,  was  dead, 
and  he  married  Audafleda,  the  sister  of  Clovis. 

It  may  be  mentioned  here  that  Audafleda  had  only 
one  child,  a  daughter  named  Amalaswintha.  The  idea 
of  hereditary  succession  to  the  throne  was  now  begin- 
ning to  be  much  more  fully  recognized  among  the 
Teutonic  peoples  than  it  had  been  anciently,  and 
Amalaswintha  was  therefore  regarded  as  heiress  of  the 
kingdom.  When  Amalaswintha  grew  up  to  woman- 
hood, the  question  who  should  be  her  husband  was  a 
very  important  one,  for  it  practically  involved  the 
succession  to  the  kingdom.  If  her  father  had  bestowed 
her  on  a  prince  of  any  other  royal  house,  the  Ostro- 
goths would  have  felt  that  they  were  sold  into  the 
hands  of  a  foreign  nation  ;  and  if  he  had  chosen  one 
of  his  own  generals,  or  some  Roman  noble,  he  would 
have  excited  jealousies  that  would  very  likely  have 
proved  dangerous.  However,  Theoderic  found  a  way 
out  of  the  difficulty  that  seems  to  have  satisfied  every 
one.  At  the  court  of  the  Visigoth  king  there  was  an 
Amaling  prince  named  Eutharic,  the  great-grandson 


of  that  King  Thorismund,  after  whose  death  the  throne 
of  the  Ostrogoth  had  remained  vacant  for  forty  years, 
until  their  Hunnish  masters  allowed  them  to  choose  a 
king  once  more.  Now  according  to  the  new-fashioned 
principle  of  inheritance,  this  Eutharic  had  a  better 
right  to  be  king  than  Theoderic  himself,  and  when  the 
latter  died  there  would  very  likely  be  a  party  ready  to 
support  his  claim.  So  Theoderic  prudently  invited 
this  prince  into  Italy,  and  by  marrying  him  to  Ama- 
laswintha  united  the  two  branches  of  the  Amaling 
stock.  Eutharic  was  entrusted  with  important  offices 
in  the  kingdom,  and  he  seems  to  have  been  a  man  of 
some  vigour  and  capacity  for  government.  His 
liberality  and  magnificence  won  him  many  friends 
among  the  Romans,  though  the  Catholic  writers  say 
he  was  a  bigoted  Arian,  and  not  at  all  disposed  to 
follow  his  father-in-law's  policy  of  toleration.  How- 
ever, Eutharic  died  a  few  years  before  Theoderic, 
leaving  a  son  named  Athalaric,  who  while  yet  an  in- 
fant was  proclaimed  king  of  Italy. 

It  was  Theoderic's  wish  that  the  Teutonic  peoples 
of  Europe  should  form  a  sort  of  league,  bound  together 
by  the  brotherhood  of  rclce,  and  by  the  family  con- 
nections of  their  kings.  The  Ostrogoths  of  course 
were  to  be  at  the  head  of  the  league,  and  enlightened 
by  the  traditions  of  Roman  statesmanship  which  they 
inherited  as  possessors  of  the  Western  empire,  were  to 
lead  the  kindred  peoples  along  the  path  of  civilization. 
Like  all  Theoderic's  schemes,  this  magnificent  plan 
could  only  be  worked  by  a  man  of  genius.  But  while 
the  man  of  genius  lived  it  was  wonderfully  successful. 
The  kings  of  the  other   Teutonic  peoples — Franks, 


A    QUARREL    WITH    THE   EMPEROR.  177 

Visigoths,  Vandals,  and  the  rest — looked  up  with  re- 
spect to  the  sovereign  of  Rome  ;  they  sought  his  medi- 
ation in  their  quarrels,  and  allowed  him  to  write  to 
them  in  the  tone  of  a  superior.  If  they  did  not  always 
follow  the  counsels  which  he  gave,  they  at  least  re- 
ceived them  with  abundant  professions  of  deference 
and  gratitude. 

But  notwithstanding  Theoderic's  love  of  peace,  the 
annals  of  his  reign  include  two  great  foreign  wars — 
one  with  Constantinople,  the  other  with  the  Franks 
— which  together  occupied  about  five  years. 

The  war  with  the  Eastern  empire  began  in  this  way. 
Theoderic  had  been  endeavouring  to  secure  his  north- 
eastern frontier,  which,  as  he  knew  from  the  success 
of  his   own  invasion,  was  the  weakest   point   of  his 
kingdom.     In  order  to  make  himself  safe  against  any 
possible  designs  on  the  part  of  the  emperor,  he  culti- 
vated the  friendship  of  the  petty  chiefs  who  ruled  in 
the  neighbourhood  of  the  old  dividing  line  between 
the   two   empires.       Amongst   these   was   a   certain 
Mundo  the  Hun,  a  descendant,  it  was  said,  of  Attila. 
He  was  a  sort  of  brigand  captain,  who  had  assumed 
the  title  of  king  somewhere  in  the  district  now  known 
as  Servia.     The  Gepids,  who  were  still  inhabiting  the 
neighbourhood  of  the  river  Save,  refused  Theoderic's 
offers   of    alliance,    and    made   an    attack    upon    his 
territories.     In  the  year  504  Theoderic  sent  an  army 
against  the  Gepids,  under  a  commander  named  Pitzia, 
who  soon  captured  their  chief  fortress   of  Sirmium, 
and  compelled  their  king  Thrasaric  to  acknowledge 
himself  Theoderic's  vassal.     Just  at  the  same  time, 
the  emperor  Anastasius,  having  heard  that  Mundo 


had  been  committing  depredations  on  the  neighbour- 
ing lands  of  the  empire,  sent  against  him  his  general 
Sabinianus.  The  imperial  troops,  assisted  by  the 
Bulgars — this  famous  nation  is  now  for  the  first  time 
mentioned  in  history — had  almost  succeeded  in  com- 
pelling Mundo  to  surrender,  when  Pitzia  appeared  in 
defence  of  his  master's  ally,  and  inflicted  on  the 
emperor's  general  a  crushing  defeat.  Amongst  the 
Goths  who  specially  distinguished  themselves  in  this 
campaign  was  a  young  officer  named  Thulwin,  who 
afterwards  became  one  of  Theoderic's  closest  friends. 

By  way  of  revenge  for  this  discomfiture,  Anastasius 
caused  his  fleet  to  ravage  the  south  of  Italy.  Theo- 
deric  was  at  first  unprepared  to  defend  himself  against 
this  attack,  but  he  soon  succeeded  in  forming  a  naval 
force  which  compelled  Anastasius  to  leave  him  un- 
molested. After  the  year  508  the  peace  between 
Anastasius  and  Theoderic  was  not  again  broken,  and 
under  the  succeeding  emperor,  Justin,  the  relations 
between  Constantinople  and  Ravenna  were  still  more 

Before  Theoderic  had  done  with  this  quarrel,  he 
found  himself  drawn  into  another,  the  consequences 
of  which  were  of  much  greater  importance.  This 
time  his  adversary  was  the  king  of  the  Franks. 

The  rapidly  growing  power  of  Clovis,  and  his 
evident  unscrupulousness  and  ambition,  had  long 
been  regarded  by  Theoderic  with  well-founded  alarm. 
In  the  year  496  Clovis  had  gained  a  decisive  victory 
over  the  Alamans,  the  German  nation  from  whom  in 
modern  French  all  Germans  have  received  the  name 
of  AUemands.     Theoderic   sent  a  letter  to  the  con- 


queror,  offering  him  his  congratulations,  but  earnestly 
entreating  him  to  deal  mercifully  with  the  vanquished. 
Although  Clovis  might  make  a  show  of  receiving 
these  exhortations  respectfully,  he  paid  little  attention 
to  them  in  practice,  and  Theoderic  granted  to  the 
persecuted  Alamans  a  new  home  in  the  northern  part 
of  his  own  dominions — in  Rha^tia,  or  what  is  now 
known  as  Southern  Bavaria.  Clovis  pursued  his 
career  of  conquest ;  in  a  few  years  he  had  subdued 
the  Burgunds,  and  was  threatening  to  bring  the 
combined  armies  of  Franks  and  Burgunds  to  the 
subjugation  of  the  Visigoths. 

Theoderic  laboured  earnestly  to  prevent  the  out- 
break of  war  between  Clovis  and  Alaric.  To  the 
former  he  wrote  "  as  a  father  and  as  a  friend,"  ex- 
horting him  not  to  engage  in  a  fratricidal  conflict  the 
result  of  which  was  uncertain,  and  which  could  bring 
him  no  true  glory  ;  and  he  added  that  if  Clovis  de- 
clared war  he  should  consider  the  act  as  an  insult  to 
himself.  To  Alaric,  on  the  other  hand,  he  laid  stress 
on  the  danger  of  rushing  unprepared  into  the  struggle, 
and  urged  him  to  make  every  honourable  concession, 
and  not  to  draw  the  sword  until  the  efforts  which  he 
himself  was  making  to  bring  Clovis  to  reason  should 
have  proved  unavailing. 

But  it  was  all  in  vain  that  Theoderic  exerted  his 
powers  of  persuasion.  The  Prankish  king  was  bent 
on  war.  Alaric,  indeed,  was  only  too  willing  to  yield, 
but  he  soon  saw  that  no  concession  would  save  him. 
We  have  already  related  the  sad  story  of  the  war  of 
the  year  507 — how  the  Visigothic  king  was  compelled 
by  his  generals  to  risk  a  battle  without  waiting  for 


Theoderic's  promised  aid,  and  how  the  result  was  the 
death  of  Alaric  and  the  conquest  of  his  Gaulish 
dominions  by  the  Franks. 

It  was  the  war  with  Anastasius  that  prevented 
Theoderic  from  intervening  in  time  to  save  Alaric 
from  ruin.  As  soon  as  peace  was  concluded  with  the 
emperor,  in  June,  508,  an  Ostrogothic  army,  led  by 
the  Count  Ibba,  Theoderic's  principal  general,  entered 
Southern  Gaul.  Before  very  long  Ibba  had  gained 
a  decisive  victory  over  the  Franks  and  Burgunds,  and 
in  the  following  year  Clovis  was  glad  to  make  a  treaty 
of  peace,  in  which  he  acknowledged  the  infant  Am- 
alaric  (the  son  of  Alaric)  as  sovereign,  not  only  of 
Spain,  but  of  a  considerable  tract  of  country  in  the 
south-east  of  Gaul,  including  the  great  cities  of  Aries 
and  Narbonne.  The  greater  part  of  Provence,  east 
of  the  Rhone,  was  added  by  Theoderic  to  his  own 

Theoderic  now  assumed  the  government  of  the 
Visigothic  kingdom,  as  the  guardian  of  his  infant 
grandson.  An  illegitimate  half-brother  of  Amalaric 
endeavoured  to  make  himself  king,  but  after  a  struggle 
of  about  a  year  he  was  defeated  and  put  to  death. 
Theoderic  committed  the  management  of  the  Spanish 
dominions  to  one  of  his  generals,  named  Theudis,  who 
however  collected  a  native  army,  and  became  so  power- 
ful that  his  master  was  reluctantly  obliged  to  allow  him 
practically  to  assume  the  position  of  a  tributary  king. 
Still,  this  extension  of  his  empire  carried  with  it 
an  increase  of  respect  amongst  foreign  sovereigns,  and 
his  nominal  lordship  over  Spain  was  maintained 
without  cost. 


In  the  year  523  Theoderic  made  another  addition 
to  the  territory  of  his  kingdom.  It  was  a  military 
conquest,  and  yet  it  was  won  without  striking  a  blow. 
This  apparently  contradictory  statement  is  easily  ex- 
plained. Sigismund,  king  of  the  Burgunds,  prompted 
by  the  malice  of  his  second  wife,  had  murdered  his 
own  son,  the  grandson  of  Theoderic.  Thulwin,  the 
general  of  Theoderic,  marched  to  Lyons  with  an 
Ostrogothic  army,  to  inflict  punishment  on  the  guilty 
king.  When  he  arrived,  however,  Sigismund  had 
already  been  captured  by  the  sons  of  Clovis  and  put 
to  death  ;  and  the  new  king,  Godemar,  who  was  carry- 
ing on  the  war  with  the  Franks,  eagerly  offered  to 
resign  to  Theoderic  the  southern  half  of  his  kingdom 
as  the  price  of  peace.  Thulwin  therefore  returned  in 
triumph,  having  secured  all  the  substantial  fruits  of  a 
victory  without  the  cost  of  a  single  life. 

The  vessel  which  conveyed  Thulwin  home  was 
wrecked  by  a  fearful  storm  in  full  view  of  the  port 
where  Theoderic  was  waiting  to  welcome  his  friend. 
Thulwin,  taking  his  only  child  in  his  arms,  sprang 
into  a  boat,  and  rowed  for  the  shore.  The  specta- 
tors of  his  struggles  thought  it  almost  impossible 
that  the  boat  could  live,  and  the  old  king's  anguish 
was  so  great  that  he  could  with  difficulty  be  restrained 
from  plunging  into  the  sea  in  a  hopeless  attempt  at 
rescue.  The  crew  of  the  ship  all  perished  in  their 
efforts  to  reach  the  land.  But  Thul win's  strength 
and  skill  enabled  him  to  gain  the  shore  in  safety,  and 
Theoderic  ran  to  embrace  him,  shedding  tears  of  joy 
for  his  escape.  It  was  perhaps  the  last  happy 
moment  that  the  old  king  enjoyed  in  his  life. 



Happy  would  it  have  been  for  Theoderic  if  he  had 
died  in  the  beginning  of  the  year  523,  instead  of  living 
three  years  longer.  Till  that  time  he  had  succeeded 
in  all  his  undertakings  ;  he  possessed  the  respect  and 
affection  of  the  great  mass  of  his  subjects  ;  and  he 
had  never  committed  any  great  mistake,  or  shown 
himself  unfaithful  to  the  noble  ideal  of  justice  and 
mercy  which  he  had  set  himself  to  realize.  In  the 
last  three  years  of  his  life  all  this  was  changed.  He 
discovered,  or  was  made  to  believe,  that  those  in  whom 
he  had  most  implicitly  trusted  were  conspiring  for  his 
ruin.  His  mind,  worn  by  age  and  by  the  cares  of  his 
laborious  reign,  became  a  prey  to  universal  suspicion, 
which  impelled  him  to  rash  and  violent  deeds  strangely 
at  variance  with  the  whole  spirit  of  his  reign.  The 
benefactor  of  Italy  died  full  of  remorse  and  shame 
for  the  acts  of  folly  and  wrong  which  had  gone  so 
far  to  undo  the  work  of  thirty  toilsome  years. 

The  beginning  of  trouble  was  early  in  the  year  523, 
when  Cyprian,  one  of  the  king's  chief  ministers, 
informed  Theoderic,  then  at  Verona,  that  Albinus,  a 
wealthy  Roman  noble  and  a  senator,  was  guilty  of 
enteitaining  a  treasonable  correspondence   with    the 


emperor  at  Constantinople.  A  court,  composed  of 
the  ministers  and  the  principal  senators  was  assembled 
in  the  royal  palace  to  hear  the  case.  Albinus  was  con- 
fronted with  his  accuser,  and  denied  the  charge. 
Amongst  those  who  were  present  was  Boethius,  of 
whose  wealth  and  influence,  as  well  as  his  fame  as  a 
philosopher  and  a  man  of  science,  we  have  already 
spoken.  On  hearing  the  accusations  against  Albinus, 
Boethius  lifted  up  his  voice  with  the  words  :  "  My  lord 
the  king,  the  charge  is  false.  If  Albinus  be  guilty, 
so  am  I,  and  so  is  every  other  member  of  the  senate!" 

But  instead  of  protecting  Albinus,  as  Boethius 
expected  it  would,  this  emphatic  declaration  only  drew 
down  suspicion  upon  himself  Witness  after  witness, 
all  of  them  members  of  the  senate,  came  forward,  and 
brought  what  seemed  to  be  clear  proof  that  not  only 
Albinus,  but  Boethius  also,  had  been  plotting  against 
his  sovereign.  The  accused  were  captured  at  Pavia, 
and  thrown  into  prison.  The  written  testimony  of 
the  witnesses  was  sent  to  Rome,  and  laid  before  the 
senate,  who  unanimously  condemned  Boethius  to 
death,  without  allowing  him  to  answer  for  himself  or 
to  cross-question  his  accusers.  What  became  of 
Albinus  history  does  not  say.. 

Boethius  was  not  put  to  death  at  once,  but  was  kept 
nearly  a  year  in  prison.  After  his  condemnation  he 
wrote  that  famous  book  "  The  Consolation  of  Philo- 
sophy," which  is  the  only  one  of  all  his  works  that  still 
finds  readers.  It  is  not  exactly  a  literary  masterpiece, 
but  as  a  book  written  from  the  heart,  as  the  record  of 
the  meditations  by  which  a  brave  and  high-minded 
man  consoled  himself  when,  fallen  suddenly  from  the 


height  of  wealth  and  power  to  the  lowest  abyss  of 
misery,  he  was  looking  forward  to  an  ignominious 
death,  it  has  a  deep  interest,  and  will  always  be 
counted  among  the  world's  classics.  It  has  been 
translated  into  every  language  in  Europe ;  and 
amongst  the  English  translators  have  been  King 
Alfred,  Chaucer,  and,  we  are  told,  Queen  Elizabeth. 

Whether  Boethius  was  really  guilty  of  treason  will 
never  be  known  for  certain.  He  says  himself  that  the 
evidence  on  which  he  was  condemned  consisted  partly 
of  forged  letters  ;  but  his  words  imply  that  his  own 
conduct  had  given  some  ground  for  suspicion.  It 
seems  most  likely  that  he  had  been  drawn  into  some 
correspondence  with  Constantinople  inconsistent  with 
his  duty  to  his  king,  but  that  his  enemies  had  resorted 
to  falsehood  and  forgery  to  strengthen  their  case 
against  him.  One  of  the  charges,  it  seems,  was  that 
he  had  tried  to  compass  the  king's  death  by  witchcraft ; 
in  those  days  a  very  likely  accusation  to  be  brought 
against  the  most  learned  man  of  science  of  the  age. 

It  is  worth  notice  that  Boethius  himself,  though 
smarting  under  the  injustice  of  his  sentence,  does  not 
omit  to  bear  testimony  to  the  love  of  righteousness 
shown  by  the  king  in  earlier  days,  and  to  record  the 
indignation  which  he  always  showed  at  any  act  of 
oppression  on  the  part  of  his  Gothic  ministers. 

After  the  death  of  Boethius,  his  father-in-law,  the 
aged  Symmachus,  was  sent  for  to  Ravenna,  and 
executed,  apparently  without  a  trial,  and  for  no  other 
reason  than  that  it  was  feared  that  he  would  conspire 
to  avenge  his  relative.  The  wild  panic  which  possessed 
Theoderic's    mind  is   shown  by  his  issuing  an  edict 


forbidding  all  Romans,  under  heavy  penalties,  to  carry 
or  possess  arms. 

Even  the  policy  of  religious  liberty,  which  Theoderic 
had  regarded  as  one  of  the  proudest  glories  of  his 
reign,  was  now  to  be  abandoned.  This  change  was 
provoked  by  the  conduct  of  the  court  of  Constantinople, 
which  in  the  year  5  24  decreed  that  the  Arian  churches 
throughout  the  empire  should  be  taken  from  their 
rightful  owners  and  consecrated  afresh  for  Catholic 
use.  The  news  filled  Theoderic  with  the  fiercest 
indignation.  He  sent  for  the  Pope,  John  the  First, 
and  compelled  him  at  once  to  set  out  for  Constanti- 
nople as  his  ambassador,  to  demand  from  the  emperor 
the  restoration  of  his  Arian  subjects  to  their  former 

Pope  John  was  received  by  the  emperor  with  the 
profoundest  demonstrations  of  respect.  It  is  even  said 
that  Justin  submitted  to  the  ceremony  of  a  second 
coronation,  by  way  of  testifying  his  reverence  for  the 
head  of  the  Christian  Church.  The  pope  was  well 
assured  that  if  he  returned  to  Italy  without  having 
accomplished  his  errand  his  life  would  be  forfeited  ; 
and  so,  against  his  will,  he  achieved  the  distinction  of 
being  the  only  Roman  pontiff  who  ever  pleaded  with 
a-  Catholic  monarch  for  the  toleration  of  heretics.  He 
represented  to  the  emperor  the  danger  which  would 
be  incurred  by  himself  and  the  church  of  Italy  if  the 
request  were  refused.  Justin  was  constrained  to  yield. 
The  edict  was  repealed  ;  the  Arian  churches  were 
given  back  to  their  original  possessors.  Theoderic's 
demands  vvere  fully  complied  with,  except  in  one 
point  ;  the  Arians  whom  fear  or  interest  had  induced 


to  join  the  Catholic  Church  were  not  to  be  allowed  to 
apostatise  back  again. 

The  pope  returned  to  Italy  to  announce  the  success 
of  his  embassy.  But  Theoderic  had  been  informed — 
whether  truly  or  falsely  we  cannot  tell — that  his 
strangely  chosen  messenger  had  taken  advantage  of 
his  visit  to  Constantinople  to  betray  to  the  emperor 
the  weakness  of  the  kingdom,  and  to  urge  him  to 
attempt  an  invasion.  The  pope  was  thrown  into 
prison,  where  he  died  in  May,  526  ;  and  the  king, 
feeling  now  that  the  whole  Catholic  Church  had 
become  his  enemy,  promulgated  a  decree  that  the 
orthodox  worship  should  be  suppressed,  and  that  the  k\ 
churches  should  on  a  given  day  be  transferred  to 
Arian  hands.  But  before  the  edict  could  be  carried 
into  effect  Theoderic  was  dead. 

It  was  in  August,  526,  he  was  seized  with  his  fatal 
illness.  A  story,  which  may  or  may  not  be  true, 
ascribes  this  sickness  to  the  terrors  of  a  guilty 
conscience.  It  is  said  that  when  seated  at  supper 
he  fancied  that  he  discovered  in  the  head  of  a  large 
fish  that  had  been  placed  on  the  table  a  likeness  to 
Symmachus,  and  rushed  from  the  room  exclaiming 
that  the  face  of  the  murdered  senator  was  looking  at 
him  with  eyes  full  of  hatred  and  revenge.  He  then 
took  to  his  bed,  complaining  of  deadly  cold  which 
nothing  could  remove.  His  frenzied  delusion  passed 
away,  but  the  self-reproach  that  had  caused  it  con- 
tinued, and  he  expressed  to  his  physician,  his  bitter 
repentance  for  the  murders  of  Symmachus  and 

When   Theoderic  knew  that  his  end  was  near,  he 


sent  for  his  Gothic  generals  and  the  Roman  ministers 
of  state,  that  they  might  bid  him  farewell  and  receive 
his  last  commands.  He  appointed  his  grandson 
Athalaric,  a  boy  of  ten  years  old,  as  the  heir  of  the 
kingdom,  and  the  child's  mother  Amalaswintha,  as 
regent  during  his  minority.  The  chiefs  of  the  army 
and  the  state  took,  in  Theoderic's  presence,  a  solemn 
oath  of  fidelity  to  Amalaswintha  and  Athalaric  ;  and 
then  the  dying  king  talked  with  them  long  and 
earnestly  of  the  policy  that  was  to  be  followed  in  the 
government  of  Italy  when  he  should  be  no  more.  He 
urged  them  to  endeavour  to  maintain  friendship  with 
the  emperor,  to  forget  their  jealousies  of  race  and 
creed,  and  to  labour  unitedly  for  the  common  welfare 
of  the  people.  Above  all,  he  charged  them  to  be 
faithful  to  those  great  principles  of  equal  justice  to  all, 
of  strict  obedience  to  law,  which  at  heart  he  had 
always  loved,  even  though,  amid  the  infirmities  of  age 
and  blinded  by  panic  terror,  he  had  for  a  moment  let 
them  slip.  He  further  directed  that  the  government 
of  the  Visigoth  kingdom  should  be  placed  unreservedly 
in  the  hands  of  Amalaric,  w^ho  was  now  grown  up  to 
manhood,  and  no  longer  needed  a  guardian. 

On  the  thirtieth  of  August  Theoderic  died.  His 
remains,  enclosed  in  a  coffin  of  porphyry,  were  placed 
in  a  vast  circular  tomb  of  white  marble  at  Ravenna, 
which  afterwards  became  the  church  of  Santa  Maria 
della  Rotonda,  and  still  remains  entire,  though  no 
longer  used  for  worship.  A  century  or  two  after 
Theoderic's  death,  when  the  Goths  had  been  driven 
out  of  Italy  and  the  Catholics  were  once  more 
supreme,  the  tomb  was  robbed  of  its  contents.     The 

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HIS    TOMB    VIOLATED.  1 89 

porphyry  coffin  was  found  at  the  door  of  a  neighbour- 
ing monastery.  What  became  of  the  body  was 
unknown,  but  a  discovery  made  some  thirty  years 
ago  may,  it  has  been  supposed,  possibly  throw  some 
Hght  upon  the  question.  In  the  year  1854  some 
labourers  who  were  excavating  a  dock,  one  or  two 
hundred  yards  from  the  tomb  of  Theoderic,  came 
upon  a  skeleton  in  golden  armour,  with  large  jewels 
in  the  helmet  and  the  hilt  of  the  sword.  The  place 
was  an  ancient  cemetery,  but  the  body  had  evidently 
not  been  regularly  buried;  it  had  just  been  thrust  into 
the  earth  in  as  hurried  a  manner  as  possible.  The 
workmen  had  intended  to  keep  their  lucky  find  to 
themselves,  but  the  secret  leaked  out,  and  came  to  the 
knowledge  of  the  authorities.  The  men  were  arrested, 
and  made  a  full  confession  ;  but  of  the  golden  armour 
there  was  nothing  left  but  a  few  pieces  of  the  cuirass  ; 
all  the  rest  had  been  melted  up  and  sold. 

Now,  who  was  the  warrior  or  prince  whose  body 
had  the  strange  fate  of  being  buried  in  golden  and 
jewelled  armour,  and  yet  not  in  a -stately  sepulchre, 
but  in  a  shallow  trench  dug  in  a  common  graveyard  ? 
Some  have  thought  that  it  was  Odovacar ;  but  it 
seems  more  likely  that  it  was  Odovacar's  conqueror. 
If  the  skeleton  found  in  1854  was,  indeed,  that  of 
Theoderic,  it  is  plain  that  those  who  plundered  the 
tomb  of  the  Arian  king  were  moved  only  by  religious 
hate,  and  not  by  selfish  greed,  or  they  would  have 
stolen  the  gold  and  jewels  instead  of  burying  them 
with  their  owner.  How  fierce  was  the  hatred  felt  by 
pious  churchmen  for  Theoderic's  memory  we  may 
learn  from  the  dialogues  of  the  famous  pope,  Gregory 



the  Great,  who  tells  how,  at  the  moment  of  the  heretic 
monarch's  death,  a  saintly  hermit  beheld  in  a  vision 
his  soul  dragged  by  the  victims  of  his  persecutions, 
and  cast  into  the  mouth  of  the  volcano  of  Lipari. 

Here  ends  the  story  of  Theoderic  the  Great.  To 
estimate  his  character  aright  we  must  look  not  at 
those  last  sad  three  years,  when,  with  a  mind 
weakened  by  age  and  stung  into  fury  by  the 
treachery  of  trusted  friends,  he  stained  by  deeds  of 
cruelty  and  wrong  the  glory  of  a  great  career,  but 
at  the  thirty  years  which  he  spent  in  unselfish  labour 
for  the  welfare  of  his  people.  If  we  so  judge  him, 
we  shall  surely  assign  to  him  a  place  among  the 
noblest  men  who  ever  wore  a  crown.  Perhaps  Alfred 
of  England — different  as  the  two  were  in  many  ways 
— is  of  all  the  kings  known  to  history  the  one  with 
whom  Theoderic  may  most  fitly  be  compared  ;  and 
it  would  be  hard  to  say  which  was  the  greater  man. 



A  queen's  troubles. 

The  Ostrogoths  must  have  thought  it  a  strange 
thing  that  the  kingdom  over  which  the  great 
Theoderic  had  so  long  reigned  should  now  be 
governed  by  a  woman  in  the  name  of  a  child. 
Never  before  had  this  nation  of  warriors  humbled 
itself  by  submitting  to  female  rule,  and  scarcely  ever 
had  it  acknowledged  an  infant  as  its  king.  In  the 
old  days  of  freedom  the  custom  had  been,  whenever 
their  king  died  and  left  no  heir  old  enough  to  lead 
the  army  to  battle  or  preside  in  the  assembly,  for  the 
people  to  choose  as  his  successor  the  ablest  man 
amongst  the  kindred  of  the  royal  house.  Although 
there  was  no  man  living  who  could  remember  those 
good  old  times,  the  history  of  the  nation  was  still 
familiar  through  tho  popular  songs  ;  and  there  were 
those  who  talked  of  going  back  to  the  ancient  rule, 
and  placing  the  crown  on  the  head  of  Thulwin, 
Theoderic's  most  honoured  general,  and  the  husband 
of  an  Amaling  princess. 

But  Thulwin  was  faithful  to  the  memory  of  his 
beloved  master,  and,  instead  of  falling  in  with  the 
schemes  suggested  to  him,  used  all  his  influence  to 
persuade  the   Goths   to   submit   loyally  to   Athalaric 

192  A  queen's  troubles, 

and  his  mother.  Cassiodorus  wrote  him  a  grateful 
letter  in  the  young  king's  name,  conferring  on  him 
the  rank  of  Patrician,  and  loading  him  with  praises 
for  his  generous  conduct.  He  compared  Thulwin  to 
a  famous  hero  of  the  past  named  Gesimund,  whom, 
being  the  adopted  son  of  a  king,  the  people  wished 
to  raise  to  the  throne,  to  the  neglect  of  the  infant 
heir,  but  who  refused  the  choice,  and  served  the 
Amaling  line  with  a  faithfulness  that  "was  the 
theme  of  song  throughout  the  world,  and  would  be 
remembered  as  long  as  the  Gothic  name  should 

There  was  no  other  man  in  the  kingdom  whose 
claims  were  powerful  enough  to  weigh  against  the 
reverence  that  was  felt  for  Theoderic's  memory  ;  and 
although  the  Goths  might  privately  sneer  or  lament 
over  the  altered  condition  of  affairs,  they  joined  their 
fellow-subjects  in  taking  the  oath  of  allegiance  to 
Athalaric  and  his  mother.  Perhaps  some  of  them 
may  have  been  reconciled  to  the  new  government  by 
the  thought  that  under  the  weak  rule  of  a  woman 
they  would  have  more  opportunity  to  oppress  their 
Roman  fellow-subjects  than  had  been  allowed  them 
in  the  past. 

If  this  was  their  hope,  it  was  doomed  to  be  dis- 
appointed. Amalaswintha  herself  was  far  more  a 
Roman  than  a  Goth.  She  had  not,  indeed,  forgotten 
her  native  language  ;  but  she  spoke  Greek  and  Latin 
equally  well;  and  took  delight  in  literature  and 
science.  Her  chosen  friends  were  all  Romans.  Cas- 
siodorus, who  seems  to  have  retired  for  a  while  into 
private    life  while  Theoderic    was    playing   the   part 



ili  iliillilllillM  'il 

194  ^  queen's  troubles, 

of  an  oppressor,  again  assumed  the  office  of  chief 
minister  of  state,  and  his  letters  still  remain  to  show 
us  what  sort  of  policy  was  followed.  All  acts  of 
outrage  on  the  part  of  Goths  were  rigorously  inquired 
into  and  severely  punished ;  the  laws  with  regard  to 
worship  were  altered  in  favour  of  the  Catholics  ;  the 
confiscated  estates  of  Boethius  and  Symmachus  were 
restored  to  their  children  ;  Roman  officials  were  pro- 
moted and  rewarded  ;  and  special  exemptions  from 
taxation  were  freely  granted  to  the  provincials.  It 
is  said  that  during  the  whole  of  her  reign  Amalas- 
wintha  never  punished  a  single  Roman  either  with 
death  or  loss  of  property. 

But  if  these  measures  secured  for  the  queen  the 
goodwill  of  the  Romans,  they  excited  bitter  resent- 
ment in  the  minds  of  her  own  people.  The  Goths  in 
Theoderic's  reign  had  sometimes  complained  that  the 
Romans  got  too  much  favour  ;  but  they  knew  in 
their  hearts  that  their  king  aimed  at  nothing  but 
equal  justice.  But  now  they  could  make  the  same 
complaint  with  only  too  good  reason. 

What  they  thought  worst  of  all  was  the  way  in 
which  Amalaswintha  was  bringing  up  her  son. 
Instead  of  having  him  taught  to  ride  and  fence, 
and  letting  him  join  in  the  sports  of  the  young 
nobles;  she  kept  him  closely  to  his  books,  and  out 
of  school  hours  made  him  spend  his  time  in  the 
company  of  three  aged  Goths,  "  the  most  intelligent 
and  well-mannered" — which  means,  of  course,  the 
most  like  Romans — that  she  was  able  to  find.  The 
Gothic  warriors  said  that  Athalaric  was  being  edu- 
cated to  be  a  sickly,  useless  bookworm,  unfit  to  bear 



the  fatigues  or  face  the  dangers  of  war,  and  despising 
his  own  people  as  ignorant  barbarians. 

One  day  it  happened  that  Athalaric  had  done 
something  wrong,  and  his  mother  had  beaten  him. 
The  boy  went  crying  into  the  men's  room,  and  the 
Goths  who  were  in  attendance  soon  got  to  know 
what  was  the  matter.  "  What  a  shame  ! "  one  of 
them  said,  when  Athalaric  had  told  his  story  ;  "  it  is 
plain  that  what  she  wants  is  to  kill  the  child  as  soon 
as  she  can,  so  that  she  can  marry  a  second  husband, 
and  share  the  kingdom  with  him."  Many  angry 
speeches  were  made,  and  it  was  agreed  that  a  depu- 
tation should  be  sent  to  expostulate  with  the  queen 
on  her  conduct. 

Accordingly  a  number  of  the  chief  Gothic  nobles 
demanded  an  audience  of  Amalaswintha.  When 
they  were  admitted  into  her  presence  their  spokes- 
man said  :  "  We  have  come,  O  queen,  to  tell  you 
that  we  consider  that  the  way  in  which  you  are 
training  up  our  young  king  is  altogether  wrong. 
A  Gothic  king  does  not  want  book-learning ;  he 
needs  to  know  how  to  fight,  and,  as  your  father  often 
used  to  say,  unless  the  art  of  war  was  learned  in 
youth  it  never  would  be  learned  at  all.  He  never 
allowed  Gothic  boys  to  be  sent  to  school  ;  it  was  his 
maxim  that  a  boy  who  had  trembled  at  the  school- 
master's rod  would  never  face  an  enemy's  sword. 
Look  at  his  own  example.  There  never  was  a  wiser 
or  a  more  powerful  king  than  Theoderic,  and  yet  he 
knew  nothing  of  book-learning,  not  even  by  hearsay. 
Therefore,  O  queen,  we  demand  that  you  send  these 
schoolmasters  about  their  business,  and  let  your  son 



be  brought  up  as  befits  a  king  of  the  Goths,  among 
companions  of  his  own  age." 

No  doubt  it  was  true  that  Amalaswintha's  way  of 
educating  her  son  was  not  altogether  the  right  one. 
If  Theoderic  had  had  the  training  of  an  heir  to  his 
kingdom  he  would  have  taken  care  that  the  boy 
should  be  taught  to  excel  in  all  manly  exercises,  and 
to  display  the  courage  and  endurance  which  his 
people  above  all  things  demanded  in  their  king.  But, 
at  the  same  time,  he  knew  the  worth  of  Roman 
learning,  and  though  he  may  have  thought  it  best 
that  the  sons  of  his  Gothic  warriors  should  have  little 
to  do  with  books,  he  would  not  have  allowed  the 
future  king  of  Goths  and  Romans  to  grow  up  in 
barbarian  ignorance. 

Amalaswintha  was  bitterly  indignant  at  the  im- 
perious demands  of  the  Gothic  chiefs,  but  she  knew 
it  was  of  no  use  to  resist.  She  sullenly  told  them 
that  they  should  have  their  own  way  ;  she  gave  up 
the  young  king  to  their  management,  and  promised 
to  interfere  no  further  with  his  education. 

The  result  was  what  might  have  been  expected. 
The  poor  boy,  suddenly  set  free  from  his  mother's 
strict  control,  and  with  no  one  else  to  exercise  whole- 
some restraint  over  him,  fell  under  the  influence  of 
vicious  companions,  and  spent  all  his  time  in  drunken- 
ness and  dissipation.  It  was  soon  evident  to  every 
one  that  his  health  was  ruined  by  his  excesses,  and 
that  he  would  not  live  to  the  age  of  manhood. 

But  Amalaswintha's  concessions  availed  her  no- 
thing. The  continued  insolence  of  the  Gothic  nobles 
made  her  life  a  burden.     Her  commands  were  seldom 


obeyed,  and  the  kingdom  soon  fell  into  utter 

At  length  she  determined  to  abandon  Italy,  and 
wrote  to  the  emperor  Justinian,  asking  if  he  would 
give  her  a  home  in  Constantinople.  The  emperor, 
who  was  eagerly  looking  out  for  an  opportunity  to 
make  Italy  his  own,  readily  consented,  and  had  a 
palace  splendidly  furnished  for  her  at  Dyrrhachinm 
(Durazzo)  on  the  Greek  side  of  the  Adriatic,  when  it 
was  agreed  that  she  should  live  until  arrangements 
could  be  made  for  her  to  take  up  her  abode  in  Con- 

Amalaswintha  sent  over  to  Dyrrhachium  a  ship 
containing  40,000  pounds  weight  of  gold,  and  made 
all  preparations  for  leaving  the  country.  But  before 
she  took  this  decisive  step,  she  determined  to  make 
one  desperate  effort  to  regain  her  lost  power. 

The  opposition  to  Amalaswintha's  government  was 
led  by  three  Gothic  nobles  who  were  so  powerful  that 
she  felt  that  if  they  could  only  be  got  rid  of  she 
could  rule  the  kingdom  as  she  chose.  She  managed 
to  send  these  three  men  to  different  parts  of  the 
country,  under  the  pretence  of  employing  them  for 
the  defence  of  the  frontiers,  and  took  means  to  have 
them  assassinated.  In  case  the  plot  should  fail,  she 
had  a  ship  in  readiness  to  take  her  over  the  Adriatic 
at  a  moment's  notice. 

But  the  news  came  that  her  three  dreaded  enemies 
were  dead,  and  Amalaswintha  abandoned  her  purpose 
of  flight.  It  is  supposed  that,  one  of  the  victims  of 
this  shameful  murder  was  no  other  than  Thulwin,  the 
dear  friend  of  Amalaswintha's  father,  the  loyal  servant 

198  A  queen's  troubles. 

who  had  preferred  his  duty  to  his  master's  house  to 
the  temptation  of  placing  the  crown  on  his  own  head. 

For  a  while  it  seemed  as  if  Amalaswintha  had 
gained  her  object.  The  opposition  party  among  the 
Goths  were  thoroughly  frightened,  and  she  reigned 
over  Italy  as  an  absolute  sovereign.  But  her  triumph 
did  not  last  long. 

Justinian  was  resolved  by  one  means  or  other  to 
make  himself  master  of  Italy.  When  he  learned 
that  Amalaswintha  had  abandoned  her  intention  of 
going  to  live  at  Constantinople,  he  had  to  devise  another 
plan,  and  found  in  one  of  the  queen's  own  relatives 
a  tool  by  which  he  hoped  to  accomplish  his  end. 

This  was  Theodahad,  the  son  of  Theoderic's  sister 
Amalafrida  by  her  first  husband.  He  was  a  man 
somewhat  advanced  in  years,  greatly  celebrated  for 
his  learning,  being  well  acquainted  with  Latin  litera- 
ture, and  as  well  with  the  writings  of  Plato  and  the 
Holy  Scriptures.  Unfortunately  he  was  still  more 
celebrated  for  his  cowardice  and  his  avarice.  Nearly 
all  the  land  in  the  province  of  Tuscany  belonged  to 
him,  but  he  was  always  scheming  to  lay  hold  of  some 
"  Naboth's  vineyard  "  that  lay  near  to  his  own  pro- 
perty. More  than  once  Theoderic  had  compelled 
him  to  give  back  his  ill-gotten  gains,  and  just  at  this 
very  time  Amalaswintha's  judges  were  examining  into 
fresh  charges  of  extortion  brought  against  him  by  the 
people  of  his  province.  Theodahad  knew  very  well 
that  the  case  wouki  go  against  him,  and  he  hated  the 
queen  with  the  bitterest  hatred. 

With  the  intention  of  having  his  revenge,  and 
adding  to  his  own  wealth  at  the  same  time,  Theodahad 


contrived  to  let  Justinian  know  that  he  was  ready — 
for  a  sufficient  bribe — to  deHver  up  Tuscany  into  the 
emperor's  hands.  Just  then  Justinian  was  sending 
over  an  embassy,  partly  to  Amalaswintha  and  partly 
to  the  pope,  and  he  instructed  his  ambassadors  to  see 
Theodahad  secretly,  and  try  to  bargain  with  him  for 
the  proposed  treason.  The  price  which  the  traitor 
asked  was  the  permission  to  live  in  Constantinople, 
the  rank  of  senator,  and — most  important  of  all — a 
large  sum  of  money  paid  down. 

Meanwhile,  however,  the  ambassadors  had  been 
negotiating  with  the  queen.  They  laid  before  her  a 
long  list  of  wrongs  which  the  empire  had  suffered 
from  the  Goths,  and  claimed  that  reparation  should 
be  made.  One  of  the  principal  demands  was  that  the 
Goths  should  surrender  to  the  emperor  the  town  of 
Lilyba^um  in  Sicily.  This  was  a  place  which  King 
Theoderic  had  given  as  a  present  to  his  sister  Amala- 
frida  when  she  married  the  Vandal  king.  Now  that 
Justinian,  through  his  general  Belisarius,  had  subdued 
the  Vandals  (with  the  very  good  will  of  the  Ostrogoths, 
who  had  their  own  wrongs  to  avenge),  he  claimed  that 
Lilybaeum  belonged  to  him  as  the  conqueror ;  but 
the  Goths  had  taken  possession  of  the  place  and 
would  not  give  it  up. 

Amalaswintha  laid  these  demands  before  her  minis- 
ters, and  by  their  advice  wrote  a  very  dignified  letter 
to  Justinian,  respectfully  acknowledging  that  Athalaric 
was  the. emperor's  vassal,  but  refusing  to  yield  to  his 
unjust  claims,  and  suggesting  that  it  would  be  more 
worthy  of  a  great  sovereign  to  show  kindness  to  "  an 
orphan  boy  "  than  to  try  to  pick  a  quarrel  with  him 


A  queen's  troubles. 

over  trifles.  After  having  publicly  returned  to  the 
ambassador  this  queenly  answer,  the  crafty  woman 
sent  for  him  privately,  and  made  a  solemn  promise, 
which  was  to  be  kept  strictly  secret,  that  she  would 
hand  over  the  kingdom  to  Justinian  as  soon  as  the 
needful  arrangements  could  be  made. 

The  ambassadors  returned  to  Constantinople.  Jus- 
tinian was  delighted  with  their  report;  he  had  secured 
"  two  strings  to  his  bow,"  and  felt  no  doubt  that  Italy 
would  soon  be  his.  He  determined  to  lose  no  time 
in  following  up  his  advantage  and  despatched  a 
certain  Peter  of  Thessalonica,  a  famous  professor  of 


eloquence  at  Constantinople,  to  Italy  for  the  purpose 
of  making  both  the  queen  and  her  cousin  bind  them- 
selves by  oath  to  fulfil  their  respective  parts  in  the 
compact.  It  is  said  that  the  Empress  Theodora, 
whose  jealousy  had  been  excited  by  the  accounts  of 
Amalaswintha's  beauty  and  accomplishments,  gave 
Peter  private  instructions  of  her  own  to  manage 
matters  so  that  the  Gothic  queen  should  never  come 
to  Constantinople. 

Before  Peter  had  arrived  at  Ravenna,  towards  the 
end  of  534,  important  events  had  taken  place.     On 


October  3rd,  Athalaric  died  of  consumption.  His 
mother  continued  to  rule  the  kingdom  in  her  own 
name,  but  she  felt  that  her  position  was  full  of  peril. 
The  Goths  had  submitted  unwillingly  enough  to  a 
female  regent  ;  there  was  little  hope  that  they  would 
tolerate  anything  so  unheard  of  as  a  female  sovereign. 
Much  as  the  cowardly  Theodahad  was  hated  and 
despised,  he  was  the  next  heir  to  the  crown,  and  with 
their  new-fashioned  ideas  about  hereditary  succession 
it  was  likely  that  the  Goths  would  choose  him  as 
their  king.  Amalaswintha  was  resolved  not  to  be 
set  aside  :  if  she  meant  to  resign  her  kingdom  in 
favour  of  Justinian  it  must  be  "  for  valuable  con- 
sideration," and  to  be  dethroned  by  the  Goths  would 
be  ruin  to  all  her  prospects. 

In  her  desperate  extremity  she  hit  upon  a  strange 
plan,  which  no  doubt  she  thought  wonderfully  cun- 
ning, though  it  turned  out  to  be  the  height  of  folly. 
She  invited  Theodahad  to  Ravenna,  and  exhausted 
all  her  eloquence  in  protestations  of  the  utmost  friend- 
ship and  respect  for  the  man  whom  above  all  others 
she  detested,  and  whom  she  knew  to  be  her  bitterest 
enemy.  She  assured  her  dear  cousin  that  it  had  caused 
her  great  pain  to  have  to  treat  him  with  apparent 
unkindness,  but  it  had  all  been  done  for  his  own  good. 
Knowing  that  her  poor  boy  had  not  many  years  to 
live,  she  had  been  anxious  that  Theodahad  should  be 
his  successor,  but  she  had  seen  that  his  course  of  con- 
duct was  prejudicing  his  future  subjects  against  him, 
afid  endangering  his  prospect  of  being  acknowledged 
as  king.  She  had,  therefore,  felt  it  her  duty  to  inter- 
pose, and  she  congratulated  him  that  by  his  obedience 


to  her  commands  he  had  saved  his  imperilled  popu- 
larity, so  that  she  could  now  venture  to  associate  him 
with  herself  in  the  kingdom.  Not  that  she  proposed 
to  make  him  her  equal  in  power :  she  would  avail 
herself  of  his  valuable  advice,  he  should  have  the  title 
of  king,  and  share  equally  in  the  outward  honours 
and  the  revenues  of  royalty,  but  he  must  take  an  oath 
to  leave  the  actual  government  of  the  kingdom  en- 
tirely in  her  hands. 

Of  course  Theodahad  could  not  for  a  moment  be 
deceived  by  Amalaswintha's  absurdly  transparent 
pretences  of  friendship,  but  it  is  hardly  necessary  to 
say  that  he  professed  to  be  deeply  touched  by  the 
discovery  that  his  dear  sister,  whom  he  had  always 
profoundly  esteemed,  even  when  he  imagined  her  to 
be  his  enemy,  had  after  all  only  been  dissembling 
her  love,  and  with  the  best  possible  motives.  He 
gratefully  accepted  her  offer  of  the  kingly  title,  and 
bound  himself  by  the  strongest  oaths  never  to  attempt 
to  make  himself  king  otherwise  than  in  name.  But 
so  far  from  intending  to  keep  his  oath,  he  was  all  the 
while  thinking  how  he  could  make  himself  indepen- 
dent of  Amalaswintha,  and  inwardly  vowing  that  he 
would  some  day  be  revenged  upon  her  for  all  the  hu- 
miliations she  had  made  him  suffer.  In  the  game  of 
mutual  imposture  which  these  two  were  playing,  the 
daughter  of  Theoderic  was  no  match  for  her  antago- 
nist. She  fully  believed  that  Theodahad  had  been 
deceived  by  her  clever  acting,  and  had  been  converted 
from  an  enemy  into  a  humble  and  grateful  friend. 

So  Amalaswintha  and  Theodahad  were  solemnly 
proclaimed  king  and  queen  of  Italy,  and  each  of  them 

204  A  queen's  trouble^. 

sent  to  Justinian  a  letter  (drawn  up  by  Cassiodorus, 
and  still  preserved  in  the  collection  of  his  despatches) 
informing  the  emperor  that  Athalaric  was  dead,  that 
Amalaswintha  had  succeeded  him  in  the  kingdom,  and 
had  associated  "her  brother  "  Theodahad  with  herself. 
The  queen  was  full  of  praises  of  her  brother's  learning 
and  virtues,  and  Theodahad  for  his  part  was  full  of 
gratitude  for  the  kindness  of"  his  sister  and  sovereign"; 
and  both  letters  abounded  in  expressions  of  respect 
for  the  emperor,  and  asked  his  continued  protection  of 
the  kingdom.  To  the  senate  also  Amalaswintha  and 
Theodahad  wrote  letters  in  the  same  strain  of  mutual 

Only  a  few  weeks  later  the  faithless  Theodahad  had 
openly  allied  himself  with  Amalaswintha's  enemies, 
the  relatives  and  partisans  of  the  three  murdered 
chiefs.  The  men  who  had  been  employed  in  the  mur- 
der were  put  to  death,  and  the  queen  herself  was 
imprisoned  on  an  island  in  the  lake  of  Bolsena,  about 
sixty  miles  north-west  of  Rome. 

Through  his  ambassador  Peter,  who  now  arrived  in 
Italy,  the  emperor  expressed  to  Theodahad  his  dis- 
pleasure at  what  had  happened,  and  his  intention  to 
act  as  Amalaswintha's  protector.  But  not  long  after 
the  avengers  of  the  blood  of  Thulwin  and  his  com- 
panions found  admission  to  the  island  castle,  and  the 
imprisoned  queen  was  strangled  in  her  bath. 

Amalaswintha's  cruel  fate  was  after  all  the  fruit  of 
her  own  deeds,  and  we  cannot  regard  her  with  the 
unqualified  pity  due  to  an  innocent  sufferer.  But 
her  temptations  were  assuredly  great.  Surrounded 
throughout  her  reign  by  conspiracy  and  treason,  in- 


volved  in  perplexities  from  which  there  seemed  no 
escape,  it  was  rather  from  weakness  than  from  wicked- 
ness that  she  allowed  herself  to  resort  to  those  acts  of 
violence  and  treachery  of  which  she  afterwards  met 
the  just  reward. 

Theodahad  zealously  protested  to  the  emperor's 
ambassador  that  he  had  nothing  to  do  with  the  mur- 
der ;  but  the  honours  which  he  bestowed  on  the  men 
who  perpetrated  the  deed  showed  plainly  that  he  had  at 
least  connived  at  it.  The  real  history  of  the  crime  will 
never  be  fully  known.  It  is  said  on  good  authority 
that  Peter,  who  was  professedly  the  agent  of  the  em- 
peror, but  secretly  also  the  agent  of  the  wicked  empress 
Theodora,  managed  to  persuade  his  mistress  that 
Amalaswintha's  death  had  been  brought  about  by  his 
own  contrivance,  and  was  rewarded  by  her  with  high 
office  in  consequence.  The  correspondence  between 
the  empress  and  Theodahad's  wife  Gudelina  contains 
some  mysterious  allusions,  which  have  been  supposed 
to  show  that  these  two  women  had  conspired  together 
to  have  Amalaswintha  murdered.  It  is  possible 
enough  :  in  that  evil  time  there  were  few  among  the 
great  ones  of  the  earth  who  were  free  from  hideous 
suspicions,  which  were  often  certainties,  of  being  con- 
cerned in  plots  for  the  assassination  of  their  enemies. 

Although  Justinian  had  himself  no  hand  in  procur- 
ing the  queen's  death,  yet  no  event  could  have  been 
more  fortunate  for  his  schemes.  It  gave  him,  what  he 
had  long  desired,  a  good  excuse  for  a  war  of  conquest 
against  the  Goths.  To  profess  himself  the  avenger  of 
the  murdered  daughter  of  Theoderic  was  to  assume  a 
character  which  commanded  sympathy  not  only  from 



all  the  Romans  of  Italy,  but  even  from  many  of  the 
Goths  themselves,  who  were  still  loyal  to  the  memory 
of  their  great  hero,  and  were  filled  with  loathing  for 
the  treachery  and  cowardice  of  Theodahad.  The 
weakness  of  Italy,  divided  into  hostile  parties,  with 
its  military  system  fallen  into  decay  through  years  of 
feeble  government,  invited  attack;  and  the  emperor 
was  conscious  of  the  strength  which  he  possessed,  not 
so  much  in  the  numbers  of  his  army  as  in  the  talents 
and  energy  of  his  general  Belisarius,  "  in  himself  a 

And  so  in  the  year  535,  Justinian  declared  a  war 
which  he  vowed  should  continue  until  the  Gothic  power 
in  Italy  was  annihilated.  He  kept  his  promise  ;  but 
the  struggle  was  harder  and  longer  than  he  dreamed. 
It  was  not  until  twenty  years  had  passed  that  the 
sword  was  sheathed,  and  Italy  became  a  part  of  the 
dominions  of  the  Eastern  empire. 



Justinian's  design  of  conquering  Italy  was  a  bold 
one,  for  the  military  power  of  the  empire  had  sunk  so 
low  that  the  number  of  men  that  could  be  placed  in 
the  field  scarcely  amounted  to  more  than  ten  thousand. 
It  is  true  that  they  were  commanded  by  Belisarius, 
whose  skill  had  just  been  shown  in  the  brilliant  cam- 
paign that  crushed  the  Vandals,  and  who  (so  many 
modern  writers  have  judged)  was  one  of  the  greatest 
generals  of  all  time.  But  it  was  only  the  distracted 
state  of  Italy,  and  the  helpless  weakness  of  the  Gothic 
king,  that  gave  to  the  project  of  conquest  any  chance 
of  success.  It  was  necessary  to  act  at  once,  lest  the 
opportunity  should  be  lost  ;  and  yet  caution  was 
equally  needed,  for  the  consequences  of  failure  were 

The  sagacity  of  Justinian  was  equal  to  the  emer- 
gency. First  of  all,  he  wrote  to  the  king  of  the  Franks 
announcing  that  having  been  deeply  wronged  by  the 
Goths,  he  was  about  to  march  against  them  to  recon- 
quer the  portion  of  his  dominions  which  they  had 
usurped,  and  calling  upon  his  fellow  Catholics  to  lend 
him  their  support  in  a  religious  war  for  the  expulsion 
of  the  Arian  heretics.     Having  obtained  a  promise  of 


aid  from  the  Franks,  he  proceeded  to  make  his  first 
attack  in  a  way  that  involved  Httle  risk,  and  yet  would 
be  likely  to  terrify  Theodahad  into  surrender. 

It  was  determined  that  Belisarius,  with  seven  thou- 
sand five  hundred  men,  should  take  shipping  under 
pretence  of  going  to  Carthage,  and  should  land,  as  if 
in  passing,  in  Sicily.  If  he  saw  reason  to  believe  that 
the  island  could  be  occupied  without  trouble  he  was 
to  do  so  ;  if  not,  he  was  to  sail  away  to  Africa  without 
letting  it  be  known  what  his  designs  had  been.  At  the 
same  time  the  Gepid  Mundus  was  sent  to  make  an 
attack  on  the  undefended  possessions  of  the  Goths  on 
the  east  side  of  the  Adriatic. 

Both  parts  of  the  scheme  succeeded  perfectly. 
Mundus  entered  Dalmatia,  and  obtained  possession 
of  the  chief  city,  Salona,  without  resistance.  Belisa- 
rius found  that  the  people  of  Sicily  were  eager  to  be 
freed  from  Gothic  rule.  He  soon  captured  Catana  ; 
Syracuse  opened  its  gates  to  him  ;  and  the  only  city 
that  gave  him  any  trouble  was  Palermo,  which  was 
strongly  fortified,  and  was  held  by  an  important 
Gothic  garrison.  Belisarius  called  on  the  Goths  to 
surrender,  but,  trusting  to  the  strength  of  their  walls, 
they  paid  no  attention  to  his  demand.  The  stratagem 
by  which  he  is  said  to  have  gained  possession  of  the 
city  was  a  strange  one.  Anchoring  his  ships  in  the 
harbour,  close  to  the  city  wall,  he  had  boat-loads  of 
archers  hoisted  up  to  the  tops  of  the  masts.  When 
the  besieged  found  that  they  were  assailed  with 
volleys  of  arrows  out  of  the  air,  they  were  terribly 
frightened,  and  at  once  surrendered.  Whether  this 
curious  story  be  true  or  not,  there  is  no  doubt  that  in 

310  AN    UN  KINGLY   KING. 

a  few  weeks  Belisarius  received  the  submission  of  the 
whole  island  almost  without  the  loss  of  a  man.  The 
Goths  never  forgave  the  Sicilians  for  their  ingratitude 
in  so  joyfully  welcoming  the  change  of  masters.  It 
was  not  long  before  the  visits  of  the  imperial  tax- 
gatherers  made  the  islanders  feel  that  the  position  of 
subjects  of  the  empire  had  its  palpable  disadvantages. 
Notwithstanding  the  outbreak  of  hostilities,  the 
ambassador  Peter  still  continued  in  communication 
with  Theodahad,  and  made  it  his  business  to  stimu- 
late, by  cunningly  dropped  hints,  the  anxiety  which 
the  events  of  Dalmatia  and  Sicily  had  excited  in  the 
king's  mind.  In  this  endeavour  he  was  perfectly 
successful.  The  poor  wretch  was  soon  brought  into 
such  an  agony  of  terror  that  he  could  hardly  believe 
he  was  not  already  a  prisoner  of  war,  or — what  was 
still  worse — at  the  head  of  his  army,  and  forced  to 
expose  himself  to  mortal  danger.  Peter  had  there- 
fore very  little  difficulty  in  inducing  Theodahad  to 
agree  to  all  his  demands  ;  and  a  secret  agreement 
was  drawn  up,  which  Peter  undertook  to  submit  for 
the  approval  of  the  emperor.  The  conditions  stipu- 
lated were  :  "  That  the  emperor  should  retain  posses- 
sion of  Sicily  ;  that  Theodahad  should  pay  a  tribute 
of  3  cwt.  of  gold  every  year,  and  supply  three  thou- 
sand Gothic  soldiers  whenever  required  ;  that  no 
senator  or  Catholic  priest  should  be  punished  with 
death  or  confiscation  without  the  emperor's  leave  ; 
that  the  emperor  should  have  the  appointment  of 
patricians  and  senators  ;  that  no  one  should  be 
allowed  to  shout,  'Long  live  Theodahad,'  but  only 
*  Long   live  Justinian  and  Theodahad  ; '  and   that  no 


statue  of  Theodahad  should  be  erected  unless  accom- 
panied by  one  of  Justinian,  which  was  always  to 
occupy  the  place  of  honour  at  the  right  hand." 

Having  obtained  Theodahad's  consent  to  this 
agreement,  Peter  set  out  for  Constantinople,  no  doubt 
thinking  that  he  had  made  an  excellent  bargain.  As 
soon  as  he  was  out  of  sight,  however,  it  occurred  to 
Theodahad  that  possibly  the  emperor  would  not 
approve  of  the  conditions,  and  that  in  that  case  the 
war  would  have  to  go  on  after  all.  Tormented  by 
this  terrible  thought,  he  hastily  despatched  a  messen- 
ger to  overtake  the  ambassador,  and  entreat  him  to 
come  back  at  once.  Peter  obeyed  the  summons  with 
a  good  deal  of  vexation,  for  his  natural  conclusion 
was  that  the  king,  showing  for  the  moment  something 
more  like  a  manly  spirit,  had  repented  of  his  bargain, 
and  that  the  whole  process  of  coaxing  and  intimida- 
tion would  have  to  be  gone  through  again. 

As  soon  as  Peter  appeared  in  the  royal  presence, 
Theodahad  eagerly  asked  whether  it  was  quite  certain 
that  the  emperor  would  accept  the  offered  terms,  and 
if  not,  what  would  be  the  result.  The  answer  con- 
firmed his  worst  fears.  "  I  cannot  fight,"  he  said  ;  "  if 
it  really  came  to  that,  I  would  rather  resign  my 
crown,  provided  the  emperor  would  give  me  an  estate 
worth  twelve  hundred  pounds  weight  of  gold  a  year." 
Peter  then  persuaded  him  to  put  this  proposal  into 
the  form  of  a  letter  addressed  to  Justinian,  but  it  was 
agreed  that  the  ambassador  should  not  deliver  the 
letter,  or  drop  any  hint  about  any  further  offers,  until 
he  had  tried  his  best  to  induce  Justinian  to  accept  the 
treaty  as  at  first  drawn  up.      Himself  the  most  faith- 

212  AN    UN  KINGLY  KING, 

less  of  men,  Theodahad   had  yet  the  folly  to  think 
that  the  ambassador  would  keep  this  absurd  promise, 
at  the  sacrifice  of  his   duty  to  his  master,  and  at  the 
risk  of  his  own  head.     Of  course  when  he   got  to 
Constantinople  Peter  told  the  whole  story.     Justinianj 
accepted  Theodahad's  surrender  of  the  kingdom,  and! 
wrote  him   a  letter   complimenting  him  on  his  wise' 
decision,  and  promising  him  not  merely  the  estate  he 
asked   for,  but  the  highest  honours  which  could  be 
bestowed  on  a  subject  of  the  empire. 

The  trusty  Peter,  accompanied  by  a  certain  Atha- 
nasius,  was  sent  over  to  Italy  to  receive  Theodahad's 
formal  abdication,  and  to  assign  to  him  the  lands  for 
which  he  had  bargained  ;  Belisarius  was  ordered  to 
go  from  Sicily  to  Rome  to  take  possession  of  the 
Italian  kingdom. 

But  when  Peter  arrived  in  Italy  he  found  that 
Theodahad's  mood  of  abject  humility  had  given  place 
to  one  of  insolent  defiance.  The  cause  of  this  change 
was  some  news  which  had  come  from  Dalmatia.  A 
strong  body  of  Goths  had  made  an  attack  on  the 
imperial  general  Mundus  at  Salona ;  a  battle  had 
taken  place  without  any  decisive  result,  but  Mundus 
and  his  son  were  killed.  This  event  was  to  many 
superstitious  people  rather  a  cause  for  satisfaction 
than  for  regret.  A  pretended  prophecy  of  the  Sibyl 
had  been  for  some  time  much  quoted,  which  said  that 
when  Africa  was  subdued  the  world  and  its  offspring 
would  perish.  After  the  conquest  of  the  Vandal 
kingdom  by  Belisarius,  many  persons  feared  that  the 
end  of  the  world  was  at  hand.  But  as  mundus  is  the 
Latin  for  "  world,"  it  was  generally  thought  the  death 



of  the  Gepid  general  and  his  son  had  fulfilled  the 
prophecy,  and  that  the  threatened  calamity  was  no 
longer  to  be  apprehended. 

The  emperor's  armies  very  soon  compelled  the 
Gothic  generals  to  retire  from  Dalmatia  in  confusion. 
But  in  the  meantime  the  news  of  a  Gothic  victory  had 
turned  Theodahad's  weak  head,  and  Peter  and  Atha- 
nasius  were  received  with  mockery  and  insult,  and 
were  even  threatened  with  death.  They  tried  then  to 
negotiate  with  the  Gothic  nobles,  to  whom  they  had 
brought  separate  letters  from  Justinian  ;  but  the  chiefs 
refused  to  listen  to  any  proposals  which  did  not  come 
through  their  king.  The  upshot  of  the  matter  was 
that  the  ambassadors  were  thrown  into  prison,  and 
Justinian  saw  that  Italy  would  have  to  be  conquered 
by  force  of  arms. 

It  was  about  April,  536,  when  Belisarius  crossed  the 
Straits  of  Messina  to  begin  the  work  of  subduing  the 
Gothic  kingdom.  As  soon  as  he  landed  at  Reggio  he 
was  met  by  Ebermund,  Theodahad's  son-in-law,  who 
had  been  entrusted  with  the  defences  of  the  southern 
coast,  but  who  at  once  deserted  to  the  enemy  with  all 
his  followers.  Belisarius  reported  the  fact  to  Con- 
stantinople, and  the  traitor  was  rewarded  by  Justinian 
with  the  title  of  Patrician  and  many  other  marks  of 

The  imperial  troops  met  with  no  resistance  until 
they  came  under  the  walls  of  Naples.  The  Gothic 
soldiers  occupying  the  outworks  of  the  city  were  soon 
dislodged,  and  Belisarius  summoned  the  town  itself 
to  surrender.  Although  a  party  among  the  citizens 
desired  to  shake  off  the  Gothic  yoke,  the  governing 

214  AN    UN  KINGLY   KING. 

officers  and  the  great  mass  of  the  people  were 
determined  to  resist.  Belisarius  offered  the  most 
honourable  and  easy  terms,  but  after  long  negotia- 
tions he  was  compelled  to  commence  the  siege. 

The  inhabitants  succeeded  in  communicating  with 
Theodahad,  whom  they  implored  to  send  them  an 
army  of  relief  without  delay.  The  story  goes  that 
when  the  king  received  this  message  he  consulted  a 
Jewish  sorcerer,  asking  him  what  the  result  of  the 
struggle  would  be.  The  Jew  directed  him  to  take 
thirty  hogs,  and  to  place  them  in  three  different  styes, 
ten  of  them  to  represent  the  Romans,  ten  the  Goths, 
and  ten  the  imperial  troops.  He  was  to  keep  them 
without  food  for  a  given  time,  and  then  to  go  and  see 
what  had  happened  to  them.  The  result  was  that 
the  hogs  which  stood  for  the  emperor's  soldiers  were 
all  found  alive  and  little  the  worse,  but  half  the 
"Romans"  and  nearly  all  the  "Goths"  had  died,  the 
few  which  survived  being  in  a  very  wretched  condi- 
tion. Theodahad,  if  we  are  to  believe  the  tale, 
accepted  the  omen  as  meaning  that  the  Gothic  cause 
was  fated  to  defeat,  and  pleaded  that  as  his  excuse  for 
sending  no  help  to  the  faithful  and  unfortunate  garri- 
son of  Naples. 

The  city,  however,  was  strongly  fortified  and  well 
provisioned,  and,  although  the  besiegers  had  stopped 
up  the  aqueduct,  the  inhabitants  were  able  to  obtain 
a  sufficient  supply  of  water  from  springs  within  the 
walls.  After  twenty  days,  Belisarius  had  made  so  little 
progress  that  he  was  on  the  point  of  determining  to 
raise  the  siege  and  push  forward  towards  Rome.  Just 
at  that  moment,  however,  a  welcome  discovery  was 


made.  One  of  the  soldiers,  an  Asiatic  barbarian 
named  Paucaris,  who  was  prowHng  idly  about,  took 
a  fancy  to  see  how  far  he  could  walk  along  the  aque- 
duct, entering  at  the  point  where  Belisarius  had 
broken  it  open.  He  managed  to  go  on  without 
difficulty  until  he  was  just  under  the  city  wall,  but 
there  he  found  that  the  watercourse  passed  through 
a  hole  in  the  rock,  too  narrow  for  a  man  to  get 
through.  He  thought,  however,  that  the  hole  could 
easily  be  widened,  and  that  the  tunnel  would  then 
afford  a  means  of  penetrating  into  the  city. 

Paucaris,  of  course,  communicated  his  discovery  to 
Belisarius,  who  received  it  with  great  delight,  and 
promised  the  man  a  handsome  reward  if  his  clever 
plan  should  result  in  the  capture  of  the  city.  A 
number  of  men  were  sent  up  the  aqueduct,  furnished 
with  tools  suited  for  scraping  away  the  rock  without 
noise,  and  before  long  they  had  made  the  opening 
large  enough  for  a  man  to  pass  through  in  full 

All  was  now  ready  for  the  execution  of  the  scheme, 
but  Belisarius  wished  to  give  the  city  one  more  chance 
of  escaping  by  a  timely  surrender  or,  the  miseries  of 
a  capture  by  force  of  arms.  He  sent  for  one  of  the 
principal  inhabitants,  named  Stephen,  who  had  before 
acted  as  the  spokesman  of  the  besieged,  and  urged 
upon  him  to  persuade  his  townsmen  to  accept  the 
favourable  conditions  offered.  "My  plans  are  now 
complete,"  he  said,  "and  in  a  few  days  at  most 
Naples  must  be  mine.  But  I  shudder  to  think  what 
will  be  its  fate  if  it  has  to  be  taken  by  storm.  My 
soldiers  are  fierce  barbarians ;  how  can  I  control  them 

2l6  AN    UN  KINGLY  KING. 

when  they  are  inflamed  with  the  pride  of  victory? 
Often  have  I  seen  a  fair  city  wrapped  in  flames,  and 
exposed  to  the  cruel  rage  of  a  conquering  army,  and 
the  sight  is  so  horrible  that  I  never  wish  to  behold  it 
again.  Go  back  to  your  fellow-citizens,  tell  them 
what  I  have  said  to  you,  and  entreat  them  to  be  wise 
before  it  is  too  late." 

Stephen  saw  from  his  manner  that  he  was  uttering 
no  idle  threat,  and  he  tried  his  best  to  induce  his 
fellow-citizens  to  yield.  But  they  believed  that  Beli- 
sarius  had  only  renewed  his  proposals  because  he  was 
hopeless  of  capturing  the  fortress,  and  they  refused 
to  listen.  Belisarius  had  no  choice  but  to  carry  his 
plan  into  effect. 

A  body  of  four  hundred  men  was  told  off  for  the 
duty  of  entering  the  city  by  the  aqueduct.  At  first, 
half  of  them  shrank  from  the  perilous  enterprise,  but 
their  places  were  quickly  filled  by  volunteers,  and  then 
those  who  had  refused,  stung  with  shame  from  their 
cowardice,  begged  to  be  allowed  to  take  part  in  the 
expedition.  So  in  the  dead  of  night  the  whole  six 
hundred  entered  the  tunnel,  and  marched  as  noise- 
lessly as  they  could,  under  the  city  walls.  In  order 
to  prevent  their  movements  from  being  heard  by  the 
defenders  of  the  city,  a  Gothic  officer  named  Bessa 
was  sent  by  Belisarius  to  harangue  the  Goths  on  the 
walls  in  their  own  language,  inviting  them  to  desert 
to  the  emperor.  The  stratagem  was  successful :  the 
Goths  raised  such  scouts  of  indignation  that  no  sounds 
proceeding  from  below  could  possibly  be  noticed. 

The  six  hundred  soldiers  proceeded  along  the  dried- 
up    watercourse  until   they  came  to  a  large  under- 


ground  chamber,  with  lofty  brick  walls  and  a  vaulted 
roof.  Near  one  corner  a  few  bricks  had  fallen,  and 
there  was  a  glimpse  of  blue  sky  ;  but  there  seemed 
to  be  no  other  means  of  getting  out  except  this  hole 
at  the  top.  The  soldiers  stood  some  time  considering 
what  was  to  be  done.  At  length  one  of  them,  who 
was  a  good  climber,  threw  off  his  armour,  and  tying 
a  strong  rope  round  his  waist  scrambled  up  the  brick 
wall  with  his  fingers  and  toes,  and  succeeded  in  get- 
ting out  into  the  open  air.  He  found  himself  in  a 
cottage  garden  in  a  quiet  part  of  the  city.  An  old 
woman,  the  only  occupant  of  the  cottage,  came  to  the 
door.  The  soldier  threatened  to  kill  her  if  she  made 
a  sound.  He  then  tied  his  rope  to  an  olive  tree,  and 
lowered  it  into  the  underground  chamber,  so  that  his 
companions  were  able  to  climb  up  with  their  armour. 
When  they  had  all  emerged,  they  rushed  to  the 
northern  wall,  which  they  soon  cleared  of  its  de- 
fenders, and  held  until  their  comrades  were  able  to 
scale  it  wdth  ladders. 

The  Goths  fought  desperately,  assisted  by  a  large 
number  of  Jews,  who  had  not  forgotten  the  kindness 
which  their  race  had  received  from  the  great  Theo- 
deric.  But  their  resistance  was  unavailing.  Before 
the  day  was  over  the  city  was  in  the  hands  of  the 
imperial  forces,  and  then  began  those  scenes  of  mas- 
sacre and  destruction  which  Belisarius  had  foreseen 
and  dreaded.  The  commander  himself  used  all  his 
efforts  to  check  the  rage  of  his  followers :  exhorting 
them  to  mercy,  he  rode  through  the  streets  of  the 
city,  threatening  and  punishing  those  who  were  guilty 
of  outrages.     At  length  his  authority  prevailed  ;  the 


soldiers  were  compelled  to  abstain  from  further  insults 
to  the  citizens,  and  to  restore  to  their  families  the 
women  and  children  whom  they  had  seized  as  slaves. 
The  townspeople  then  broke  out  into  fury  against  the 
two  orators  by  whose  advice  they  had  been  led  to 
reject  the  offered  terms  of  surrender.  One  of  them 
fell  dead  of  apoplexy :  the  other  was  torn  in  pieces 
by  the  mob,  and  his  remains  hanged  on  a  gibbet. 
After  this  act  of  vengeance,  the  streets  of  Naples 
assumed  once  more  their  accustomed  aspect  of  order 
and  tranquillity. 

Belisarius  treated  his  Gothic  prisoners  kindly,  and 
they  enlisted  under  his  standard.  Other  Gothic  forces 
in  the  neighbouring  territories  deserted  to  the  Romans, 
and  the  commander  was  soon  able  to  establish  the 
government  of  the  empire  over  nearly  the  whole  south 
of  Italy. 

While  these  events  were  taking  place,  the  Goths  in 
the  neighbourhood  of  Rome  waited  patiently  for 
Theodahad  to  take  some  measures  of  defence.  Their 
loyalty  to  the  Amaling  race  had  such  strange  power 
that  it  was  not  until  Naples  had  fallen,  and  the 
sovereignty  of  Justinian  had  been  proclaimed  within 
fifty  miles  of  Rome,  that  they  could  bring  themselves 
to  believe  that  their  king  was  a  traitor.  But  now, 
when  all  this  had  happened,  and  Theodahad  still  re- 
mained inactive,  they  could  doubt  no  longer. 

A  great  council  of  the  nation  was  called  together 
at  a  place  called  Regeta,  some  forty  miles  south  of 
Rome.  The  chiefs  laid  before  the  people  their  grounds 
for  complaint  against  the  king,  and  asked  what  was 
their  will.    "  Down  with  Theodahad  ! "  was  the  unani- 



mous  cry.  **  Down  with  the  traitor  who  is  buying 
pardon  for  his  own  crimes  by  delivering  his  people  to 
destruction  !  "  But  who  was  to  succeed  him  ?  The 
time  called  for  a  warrior  king,  and  notwithstanding 
their  respect  for  royal  blood,  the  Goths  with  one 
accord  chose  Witigis,  a  man  of  humble  origin,  but 
the  ablest  military  leader  they  possessed. 

When  Theodahad  heard  that  the  Goths  had  elected 
a  new  king,  he  hastened  from  Rome  intending  to  take 
shelter  within  the  walls  of  Ravenna.  King  Witigis 
despatched  after  him  a  certain  Optahari  with  orders 
to  bring  him  back  alive  or  dead.  This  Optahari  had 
a  quarrel  of  his  own  against  Theodahad  :  a  wealthy 


and  beautiful  young  lady  had  been  promised  to  him 
in  marriage,  and  the  king,  influenced  by  a  bribe,  had 
compelled  her  to  marry  another  man.  Optahari  set 
out  in  pursuit  of  the  fugitive,  and  by  riding  night  and 
day  managed  to  overtake  him  before  he  reached 
Ravenna.  Screaming  with  fright,  the  wretched  king 
was  thrown  on  the  ground  and  killed — "  like  an 
animal  offered  in  sacrifice,"  says  the  contemporary 

Such  was  the  end  of  the  most  despicable  wretch 
that  ever  disgraced  the  Gothic  name.  It  has  strangely 
happened  that  while  we .  have  no  record  of  the  per- 



sonal  appearance  of  the  great  Theoderic,  the  features 
of  his  worthless  nephew  have  come  down  to  us  on 
several  of  his  coins.  We  cannot  doubt  that  the  por- 
trait is  a  faithful  one  ;  it  expresses  too  well  the  mix- 
ture of  knavery,  folly,  and  cowardice  which  composed 
Theodahad's  character. 



Honest  and  well-meaning  the  successor  of  Theo- 
dahad  seems  to  have  been,  and  his  valour  as  a  soldier 
had  been  proved  thirty  years  before  in  the  war  against 
the  Gepids.  But  he  had  not  the  talents  which  were 
needed  for  the  supreme  command  of  an  army,  espe- 
cially when  the  adversary  was  a  man  like  Belisarius. 
The  Goths,  however,  had  unbounded  faith  in  the  wis- 
dom as  well  as  in  the  courage  of  their  new  king,  and 
confidently  expected  that  he  would  very  soon  drive 
the  imperial  troops  out  of  Italy. 

But  although,  as  events  showed,  Witigis  was  not  a  very 
wise  or  far-seeing  man,  he  had  the  good  sense  to  per- 
ceive that  to  march  against  Belisarius  forthwith  would 
only  be  to  court  destruction.  Before  he  could  hope 
to  grapple  successfully  with  such  a  foe,  it  was  neces- 
sary both  to  restore  the  discipline  of  the  army,  so  sadly 
neglected  during  two  feeble  reigns,  and  to  make  peace 
with  the  Franks,  so  that  the  Gothic  soldiers  engaged 
in  the  north  might  be  made  available  for  the  struggle 
against  the  forces  of  the  emperor.  Witigis  called  an 
assembly  of  the  Goths  at  Rome,  and,  addressing  them 
as  "  fellow  soldiers,"  he  explained  to  them  the  reasons 
for  delay.     The  people   listened   to  his  speech  with 


feelings  of  disappointment,  but  they  deferred  to  his 
judgment,  and  made  no  protest  when  he  proposed  to 
leave  Rome  garrisoned  with  four  thousand  men,  and 
to  betake  himself  with  the  bulk  of  the  army  to 

This  part  of  the  king's  plan  was  a  terrible  mistake. 
If  the  Goths  had  occupied  Rome  in  force,  Belisarius 
would  not  have  dared  to  attack  them  with  his  small 
army :  he  would  have  had  to  wait  for  reinforcements, 
and  Witigis  would  have  gained  the  delay  which  he 
required.  The  foolish  flight  to  Ravenna,  instead  of 
postponing  the  conflict,  only  hastened  it,  and  threw 
an  immense  advantage  into  the  enemy's  hand.  Al- 
though Witigis  knew  how  little  the  fidelity  of  the 
Roman  people  was  to  be  trusted,  he  could  not  see 
that  to  leave  the  city  guarded  only  by  four  thousand 
men,  was  simply  to  ensure  its  fall.  Nor  did  he  realize 
how  terrible  a  calamity,  if  it  did  happen,  the  loss  of 
Rome  would  be ;  how  it  would  embolden  the  whole 
Italian  people  to  declare  themselves  on  the  emperor's 
side,  and  how  it  would  weigh  down  the  hearts  of  the 
Goths  with  a  sense  of  the  hopelessness  of  the  struggle. 

And  so  the  fatal  resolution  was  taken.  Before 
leaving  Rome  Witigis  compelled  the  Pope  Silverius 
and  the  senators  to  swear  an  oath  of  eternal  fidelity 
to  himself ;  and  in  order  to  ensure,  as  he  thought,  the 
observance  of  the  oath  he  took  with  him  a  number  of 
the  senators  as  hostages.  An  officer  of  tried  courage 
and  skill,  named  Leudahari,  was  placed  in  command 
of  the  four  thousand  ;  and  then  the  king  and  his  army 
marched  away  to  Ravenna. 

Although    Witigis  had  been  chosen    king   by   thQ 


unanimous  voice  of  the  people,  he  could  not  help  re- 
membering that  he  was  not  of  Amaling  blood,  and  he 
lived  in  dread  of  a  conspiracy  on  behalf  of  the  two 
persons  of  the  ancient  line  who  might  be  regarded  as 
entitled  to  the  throne.  One  of  these  was  Theudagisal, 
the  son  of  Theodahad.  The  son  of  a  father  so  greatly 
detested  could  not  perhaps  have  been  a  very  dangerous 
rival,  but  Witigis,  nevertheless,  thought  it  necessary 
to  throw  him  into  prison.  It  was  more  reasonably  to 
be  feared  that  plots  would  be  formed  in  favour  of 
Amalaswintha's  young  and  beautiful  daughter,  Mat- 
aswintha  ;  and,  in  order  to  render  his  claim  to  the 
throne  secure,  Witigis,  on  his  arrival  at  Ravenna, 
divorced  his  own  wife  and  married  the  princess.  He 
could  now  claim  to  be  king  by  hereditary  right ;  in 
his  addresses  to  the  Gothic  people  he  appeals  to  their 
loyalty  to  the  house  of  Theoderic,  and  some  of  his 
coins  bear  the  queen's  monogram.  But  every  one 
knew  that  Mataswintha  had  been  forced  into  the 
marriage  against  her  will  ;  she  never  concealed  her 
dislike  of  her  husband,  and  in  after  years  she  was 
with  good  reason  suspected  of  being  in  league  with 
his  enemies. 

One  of  the  earliest  acts  of  Witigis  at  Ravenna  was 
to  call  an  assembly  of  the  Gothic  nobles,  for  the  pur- 
pose of  obtaining  their  consent  to  a  proposed  treaty 
of  peace  with  the  Franks.  The  conditions  were  that 
the  Ostrogoths  should  give  up  all  their  possessions  in 
Gaul  to  the  Franks,  and  pay  them  two  thousand 
pounds  weight  of  gold.  Witigis  himself  spoke  of  this 
treaty  as  "  a  painful  necessity,"  but  he  assured  the 
nobles  that  no  better  terms  could  be   obtained,  and 


after  some  discussion  the  proposal  was  approved. 
The  Franks  accepted  the  bribe,  and  promised  Witigis 
their  assistance  in  the  war.  As  they  did  not  wish  to 
quarrel  with  Justinian,  they  could  not  themselves 
appear  in  the  field,  but  they  undertook  that  their 
vassals,  the  kings  of  the  Alamans  and  the  Burgunds, 
should  send  troops  to  fight  on  the  Gothic  side. 

While  King  Witigis  at  Ravenna  was  busy  drilling 
his  soldiers  and  making  his  bargain  with  the  Franks, 
he  received  the  startling  news  that  Belisarius  was  in 
Rome.  Pope  Silverius  and  the  senators  had  heard 
of  the  sad  fate  that  had  befallen  Naples  through  its 
resistance  to  the  imperial  army,  and  determined  to 
save  Rome  from  similar  calamities  by  a  timely  sur- 
render. Faithless  to  the  oaths  which  they  had  sworn 
to  the  Goths,  they  sent  an  embassy  to  Belisarius, 
inviting  him  to  come  with  all  speed  to  Rome,  and 
promising  that  the  gates  should  be  opened  at  his 
approach.  Belisarius  lost  no  time  in  complying  with 
the  request.  Leaving  a  garrison  of  three  hundred 
men  at  Naples,  he  set  out  with  his  army  along  "  the 
Latin  Way  "  to  Rome. 

When  the  senators  received  the  tidings  that  Beli- 
sarius was  coming,  they  informed  the  commander  of 
the  Gothic  garrison  of  what  they  had  done.  The 
brave  Leudahari  called  his  soldiers  together,  and  told 
them  that  though  thus  shamefully  betrayed,  he  was 
resolved  at  all  hazards  to  defend  the  city.  But  the 
Goths  refused  to  obey  their  general,  and  unaminously 
declared  that  they  would  abandon  Rome,  and  join 
the  rest  of  the  army  at  Ravenna. 

It  was  on  the  9th  of  December,  536,  that  Belisarius 


entered  Rome  by  the  "  Asinarian  Gate  "  on  the  south  ; 
and  at  the  same  moment  the  four  thousand  Goths 
marched  out  of  the  "  Flaminian  Gate  "  which  led  to 
the  great  northern  road.  Leudahari,  however,  obstin- 
ately refused  to  abandon  his  post.  He  remained  to 
be  taken  prisoner,  and  was  sent,  together  with  the 
keys  of  the  city,  as  a  token  of  victory  to  Justinian. 

Belisarius  took  up  his  residence  in  the  palace  on  the 
Pincian  Hill,  and  at  once  began  to  set  about  the  repair 
of  the  fortifications,  and  to  procure  large  supplies  of 
corn  from  Sicily.  The  Romans  saw  these  proceedings 
with  dismay,  for  they  showed  that  the  general  was 
preparing  to  be  besieged  in  Rome.  The  citizens  felt 
that  their  treason  against  Witigis  had  done  them  little 
good,  if  after  all  they  were  to  suffer  the  hardships  of 
a  siege,  and  perhaps — who  could  tell  ? — were  to  fall 
at  last  into  the  hands  of  the  infuriated  Goths.  The 
joy  with  which  Belisarius  had  at  first  been  welcomed 
now  gave  place  to  discontent  and  gloomy  foreboding. 

Yet  it  did  not  seem  as  if  the  danger  of  a  Gothic 
siege  was  very  close  at  hand.  Witigis  remained  at 
Ravenna  ;  and  Belisarius  ventured  to  send  out  detach- 
ments of  his  little  army  to  conquer  the  province  of 
Tuscany.  One  of  his  officers,  Bessa  the  Goth,  captured 
the  rock  fortress  of  Narni.  Another,  named  Con- 
stantine,  marched  still  further  away,  and  occupied, 
without  resistance  from  the  inhabitants,  the  cities  of 
Spoleto  and  Perugia.  When  Witigis  learned  that  the 
emperor's  troops  were  in  possession  of  the  latter  place, 
nearly  half  way  to  Ravenna  from  Rome,  he  sent  a 
body  of  soldiers,  under  two  leaders  named  Hunila 
and  Pitza,  to  try  to  recapture  the  city.     The   Goths 


far  outnumbered  the  soldiers  of  Constantine,  but  the 
battle  was  long  undecided.  But  in  the  end  the  Goths 
fled  in  confusion,  hotly  pursued  by  the  Romans,  who 
left  few  alive  to  tell  the  tale  of  their  defeat.  Hunila 
and  Pitza  were  taken  prisoners,  and  sent  at  once  to 

After  this  disaster,  Witigis  saw  that  he  must  no 
longer  remain  inactive.  His  preparations  were  not 
so  complete  as  he  had  wished,  for  the  soldiers  recalled 
from  Gaul  had  not  yet  arrived.  '  But  even  without 
these,  the  army  which  he  had  collected  in  the  camp 
at  Ravenna  numbered  150,000  men,  *'' nearly  every  one 
of  whom  wore  a  breastplate  of  steel."  With  this  im- 
mense host  King  Witigis  set  out  along  the  Flaminian 
Way,  to  lay  siege  to  the  city  which  was  held  by  the 
little  garrison  of  Belisarius. 

The  king  did  not  stop  to  attempt  the  recovery  of 
the  captured  towns,  but  hurried  forward  without  pause, 
eager  to  stand  as  soon  as  possible  before  the  walls  of 
Rome.  From  time  to  time  the  army  met  with  parties 
of  country  people  who  had  been  turned  out  of  Rome 
as  "  useless  mouths,"  and  were  returning  to  their 
northern  homes ;  and  as  they  told  how  heavily  the 
city  was  burdened  by  the  presence  of  the  imperial 
army,  Witigis  bitterly  reproached  his  own  folly  in 
abandoning  his  capital.  Still,  he  thought  that  if  he 
could  only  get  Belisarius  shut  up  within  the  walls  his 
victory  was  secure.  His  great  anxiety  was  lest  when 
he  arrived  at  his  journey's  end  he  should  find  that  the 
bird  had  flown.  "  Is  Belisarius  still  in  Rome  ?  "  was 
the  question  he  impatiently  asked  of  a  priest  who  had 
left  the  city  a  day  or  two   before.     "  Never  fear  for 


that,"  said  the  priest  with  a  laugh ;  "  there  is  not 
much  Hkelihood  of  his  running  away."  Perhaps  the 
priest  thought  that  Witigis  had  more  reason  to  dread 
Belisarius's  remaining  where  he  was  than  his  escape. 

The  Goths  marched  on  without  opposition  until 
they  came  to  the  Milvian  bridge,  which  crosses  the 
Tiber  about  two  miles  north  of  Rome  ;  and' here  they 
met  with  an  unexpected  check.  Belisarius  had  built 
a  gate-tower  at  the  entrance  of  the  bridge,  and  gar- 
risoned it  with  a  body  of  soldiers  strong  enough  to 
render  its  capture  a  tedious  and  costly  piece  of  work. 
He  did  not  expect  to  be  able  to  prevent  the  Goths 
from  crossing  the  river  at  all,  but  he  was  anxious  to 
gain  time,  as  he  was  expecting  some  more  troops 
from  Constantinople.  Whether  the  enemy  made  an' 
attack  on  the  tower,  crossed  in  boats,  or  marched 
away  to  find  another  bridge,  he  thought  he  was  sure 
of  several  days'  delay.  In  order  to  make  the  passage 
still  more  troublesome,  he  determined  to  place  his 
camp  close  to  the  river  on  the  side  nearest  Rome. 

When  Witigis  saw  how  the  bridge  was  protected, 
he  was  at  a  loss  to  know  what  to  do.  Most  of  his 
officers  thought  that  the  best  course  would  be  to 
make  an  assault  on  the  tower.  But  it  was  decided 
not  to  attempt  any  movement  until  the  following 

During  the  night,  however,  the  soldiers  in  the  tower 
took  fright  at  the  immense  multitude  of  the  enemy, 
and  abandoned  their  post.  They  did  not,  of  course, 
dare  to  go  in  the  direction  of  Rome,  but  fled  into 
Campania,  all  except  twenty-two,  who,  being  Goths 
themselves,  deserted    to   their  countrymen,  and   told 



them  what  had  happened.  When  morning  came, 
therefore,  the  Goths  had  only  to  batter  down  the 
gates,  and  went  over  the  bridge  without  meeting  any 

The  same  morning,  Belisarius,  thinking  that  the 
enemy  was  safe  on  the  other  side  of  the  river,  had 
ridden  out  with  a  thousand  horsemen  to  choose  a 
suitable  place  for  his  camp.  Suddenly  a  fierce  shout 
was  heard,  and  the  general's  guard  found  themselves 
struggling  with  the  van  of  the  Gothic  cavalry,  who 
had  just  crossed  the  bridge.  Belisarius,  brave  but 
imprudent,  forgetting  how  much  depended  on  his 
safety,  rushed  to  the  front,  and  fought  like  a  common 
soldier.  He  was  mounted  on  his  favourite  charger,  a 
beautiful  dark-brown  horse  with  a  white  star  on  its 
forehead.  The  deserters  recognized  their  late  general, 
and  the  word  was  hastily  passed  through  the  Gothic 
ranks,  "Aim  at  the  horse  with  the  white  star." 
Hardly  knowing  what  was  meant,  the  Goths  obeyed 
the  hint,  and  charged  with  lances  and  swords  upon 
the  imperial  commander.  His  body-guard  gathered 
round  him,  and  enclosed  him  within  a  wall  of  shields. 
After  a  desperate  fight,  the  Goths  retired  to  their 
camp  with  the  loss  of  a  thousand  men. 

But  now  fresh  bodies  of  cavalry  came  up,  and  the 
Romans,  who  had  themselves  suffered  serious  losses, 
were  compelled  to  have  recourse  to  flight.  At  the  top 
of  a  hill,  where  they  had  halted  for  a  moment's  breath- 
ing space,  they  were  overtaken  by  their  pursuers,  and 
the  fight  was  renewed.  Valentine,  the  groom  of  Beli- 
sarius's  step-son,  fought  like  a  lion,  and  by  his  sole 
prowess  succeeded    in   checking   for  a    moment   the 



advance  of  the  enemy.  But  it  was  in  vain  to  resist 
the  overwhelming  numbers  of  the  Gothic  host,  and 
the  Romans  were  driven  close  up  to  the  walls  of 
Rome.  A  few  of  the  fugitives  who  had  outstripped 
the  rest  found  entrance  into  the  city.  They  reported 
that  Belisarius  was  killed,  and  that  the  enemy  was  in 
close  pursuit.  The  gate  was  hastily  flung  to,  and 
when  Belisarius  and  his  comrades  had  crossed  the 
ditch  they  found  themselves  shut  out  In  vain  the 
general  shouted  and  threatened ;  the  soldiers  on  the 
top  of  the  tower  did  not  recognize  his  voice,  and  in 
the  gathering  twilight  his  features,  covered  with  blood 
and  dust  as  they  were,  could  not  be  distinguished. 
It  seemed  as  if  in  another  moment  the  Goths  would 
have  scrambled  across  the  moat  and  massacred  the 
little  band  huddled  under  the  walls.  A  daring  strata- 
gem of  Belisarius  saved  himself  and  his  companions 
from  destruction.  Drawing  up  his  handful  of  men  in 
battle  array  under  cover  of  the  darkness,  he  made  a 
sudden  charge  upon  the  Goths,  who,  thinking  that  it 
was  a  sortie  of  the  forces  within  the  city,  were  seized 
with  panic,  and  fled  in  confusion.  The  sentinels  on 
the  wall  reported  the  flight  of  the  enemy,  and  Beli- 
sarius with  his  brave  little  band  was  now  allowed 
admission.  The  gate  through  which  he  passed  was 
long  known  as  "  the  gate  of  Belisarius." 

The  historian  who  records  the  prowess  of  Belisarius 
tells  also  of  a  hero  who  on  this  memorable  day  dis- 
tinguished himself  no  less  signally  on  the  other  side. 
It  was  a  certain  Wandilhari,  appropriately  surnamed 
Wisand  (i.e.,  the  Bison),  who,  pierced  with  thirteen 
wounds,  was  left  for  dead  upon  the  battle-field.     On 


the  third  day,  his  comrades,  returning  to  bury  the 
slain,  found  Wandilhari  still  breathing,  though  unable 
to  speak.  When  water  was  poured  into  his  mouth  he 
revived  a  little,  and  was  carried  into  the  camp. 
Wandilhari  the  Bison  lived  to  a  great  age,  and  was 
naturally  held  in  the  highest  honour  by  his  country- 
men for  his  wonderful  display  of  bravery  and  en- 

Weary  as  Belisarius  was  with  the  toils  and  agitations 
of  this  long  day,  there  remained  yet  much  to  be  done 
before  he  could  allow  himself  a  moment's  rest.  His 
first  care  was  to  man  the  walls,  which  were  thirteen 
miles  in  circuit.  His  little  army  could  not  spare  soldiers 
enough  for  this  duty,  and  he  instructed  his  officers  to 
muster  all  the  able-bodied  men  in  the  several  quarters 
of  the  city,  dividing  them  into  bands,  some  of  them 
to  occupy  their  appointed  stations  at  once,  and  the 
others  to  take  their  places  on  the  succeeding  days  and 
nights.  At  regular  intervals  along  the  walls  large 
fires  were  to  be  kept  burning  during  the  moonless 
nights.  The  Goths  remained  watching  the  movements 
of  those  upon  the  wall,  and  when  they  saw  by  the 
light  of  the  fires  that  men  in  civil  costume  were 
mingled  with  the  soldiers,  one  of  their  chiefs,  named 
Wakis,  was  sent  to  harangue  the  citizens  on  their 
treachery.  "  What  madness  has  seized  you,  O 
Romans  !  "  he  said,  "  that  you  should  exchange 
your  valiant  protectors  for  a  handful  of  wretched 
Greeks,  who  will  never  be  able  to  defend  you.  What 
did  Greece  ever  send  to  Italy  but  playactors  and 
thieves  ? "  No  one  answered  a  word,  and  Wakis 
returned  to  the  camp. 


Belisarlus  meanwhile  was  occupied  in  apportioning 
to  his  principal  officers  the  charge  of  the  several  gates. 
Before  this  task  was  completed,  Bessa  the  Goth,  who 
had  been  posted  at  the  Praenestine  gate,  sent  a 
messenger  to  say  that  the  gate  named  after  St. 
Pancrace  had  been  forced,  and  that  the  enemy  was 
in  possession  of  the  part  of  the  city  west  of  the 
Tiber.  The  general  was  earnestly  besought  by  those 
about  him  to  make  his  escape  at  once  by  some  other 
gate.  He  ridiculed  the  story  as  absurd,  and  sent 
horsemen  across  the  river  to  make  inquiry.  They 
soon  returned  with  the  report  that  all  was  quiet,  and 
Belisarius  gave  strict  orders  to  all  the  officers  in  com- 
mand at  the  gates  that  they  should  remain  at  their  posts 
whatever  tidings  they  might  hear  from  other  parts 
of  the  city.  "  Let  each  man  attend  to  his  own  duty," 
he  said,  "  and  leave  all  the  rest  to  me." 

From  early  morning  Belisarius  had  been  in  cease- 
less activity  without  once  tasting  food.  The  intense 
excitement  of  the  day  made  him  insensible  to  the 
calls  of  hunger  and  fatigue,  and  it  was  not  until  long 
after  midnight  that  his  wife  and  friends  could  prevail 
on  him  to  interrupt  his  labours  to  partake  of  a  scanty 
meal.  '  • 

The  day  which  followed  was  the  first  day  of  the 
longest  of  all  the  many  sieges  which  Rome  has  under- 
gone. It  began  early  in  March,  537,  and  lasted  for  one 
year  and  nine  days.  Belisarius  entered  on  this  great 
struggle  with  no  fear  for  its  result  He  foresaw  that 
the  vast  army  of  the  Goths,  badly  led  and  unused  to 
the  conduct  of  a  siege,  would  dwindle  away  by  famine 
and  desertion    before  the  walls   of  Rome,  and  that 


sooner  or  later  the  end  would  be  the  ruin  of  the  Gothic 
kingdom,  and  the  establishment  of  the  imperial  rule 
in  Italy.  The  citizens  could  not  understand  his  cheer- 
ful confidence  in  the  face  of  such  fearful  odds,  and 
sneered  at  him  as  a  madman  or  a  boastful  Greek. 
His  own  soldiers  wondered  too,  but  their  trust  in  their 
well-tried  commander  could  not  be  shaken. 



The  story  of  the  long  siege  of  Rome  is  one  con- 
tinuous record  of  wonderful  patience,  resolution,  and 
readiness  of  resource  on  the  part  of  Belisarius,  and  of 
miserable  incompetence  on  the  part  of  his  antagonist. 
The  first  thing  which  King  Witigis  attempted  to  do 
was  to  enclose  Rome  with  a  circle  of  stockaded 
camps.  But  the  scale  on  which  these  camps  were 
constructed  was  so  ample  that  even  the  immense 
army  of  the  Goths  was  insufficient  to  supply  men  to 
occupy  more  than  seven  of  them,  which  blockaded 
eight  out  of  the  fourteen  gates,  leaving  the  six  gates 
on  the  southern  side  of  the  city  uninvested.  The 
seven  camps,  each  containing  more  than  thrice  the 
number  of  men  who  formed  the  garrison  of  Rome, 
were  fortified  with  as  much  elaborate  care  as  if  they 
were  intended  to  withstand  an  assault  from  an  over- 
whelming force.  King  Witigis's  principle  of  action 
was  that  it  is  never  possible  to  be  too  secure. 

The  next  thing  which  the  Goths  did  was,  in  imita- 
tion of  Belisarius's  own  proceedings  at  Naples,  to 
destroy  the  aqueducts  that  supplied  Rome  with 
water.  Belisarius  did  not  intend  that  Rome  should 
be  captured  as  he  had  taken  Naples,  and  therefore 


he  took  care  that  the  underground  passages  should 
be  soHdly  walled  up.  The  cutting  off  of  the  supply 
from  the  aqueducts  put  an  end  to  the  enjoyment  of 
the  public  baths,  the  great  luxury  of  Roman  life,  and 
the  complaints  of  the  citizens  were  bitter.  But  with 
the  river  flowing  through  the  city,  and  the  wells 
belonging  to  private  houses,  there  was  not  much 
reason  to  fear  that  want  of  water  would  compel 
Belisarius  to  surrender. 

One  of  the  aqueducts,  however,  had  furnished  the 
water-power  to  the  corn-mills,  and  the  consequence 
of  the  cutting-off  of  the  stream  was  that  the  daily 
supply  of  flour  could  not  be  doled  out  to  the  soldiers 
and  the  citizens.  Belisarius  therefore  contrived  to 
have  two  barges  moored  just  below  the  ^lian  Bridge, 
near  the  northern  wall  of  the  city,  with  a  water-wheel 
between  them,  so  that  the  stream,  rushing  with  force 
from  under  the  arch  of  the  bridge,  should  turn  the 
wheel,  and  so  drive  the  mills  which  were  placed  on 
the  barges.  The  Goths  were  informed  of  this  device 
by  deserters,  and  sent  floating  down  the  river  a  quan- 
tity of  large  trunks  of  trees  and  bodies  of  dead 
Romans,  and  by  this  means  managed  to  upset  the 
machinery.  However,  Belisarius's  ingenuity  was  equal 
to  this  occasion  also.  He  caused  long  iron  chains  to 
be  drawn  across  the  opening  of  the  bridge,  which 
intercepted  everything  that  came  down  the  stream, 
and  men  were  employed  from  time  to  time  to  clear 
away  the  obstructions  which  had  accumulated.  This 
contrivance  served  a  double  purpose,  for  it  prevented 
the  possibility  of  a  night  attack  being  made  by  boats 
sailing  under  the  bridge, 


After  a  few  days  had  passed  Witigis  began  to  think 
that  the  capture  of  Rome  would  not  prove  so  easy  an 
undertaking  as  he  had  fancied.  He  therefore  deter- 
mined to  see  whether  Belisarius  could  be  induced  to 
surrender  by  the  offer  of  honourable  conditioLS.  A 
Gothic  chief  named  Albes,  accompanied  by  several 
other  nobles,  was  sent  into  the  city  with  a  communi- 
cation to  Belisarius.  He  found  the  general  surrounded 
by  his  staff  and  the  principal  senators,  and  addressed 
him  in  a  formal  speech,  bidding  him  look  from  the 
walls  at  the  vast  numbers  of  the  besiegers  and  con- 
sider whether  it  would  not  be  mere  foolhardiness  to 
think  of  resisting  them. 

Belisarius  grimly  replied  that  the  question  whether 
resistance  was  "  foolhardiness  "  or  not  was  his  con- 
cern and  not  theirs,  and  that  he  did  not  intend  to  be 
guided  by  the  advice  which  they  offered  him.  Resist 
he  would,  and  a  time  would  come  when  the  Goths 
would  be  glad  to  hide  themselves  if  they  could  even 
in  the  bramble-bushes.  Rome  belonged  to  the 
emperor  ;  the  Gothic  intruders  who  had  stolen  it  had 
been  turned  out,  and  so  long  as  Belisarius  lived  they 
should  not  come  back. 

After  Belisarius  had  spoken,  Albes  and  his  com- 
panions looked  expectantly  at  the  senators.  They 
had  heard  from  deserters  how  fiercely  some  of  the 
principal  Romans  had  talked  (in  private)  about  the 
conduct  of  Belisarius,  and  they  thought  that  the 
appeal  made  by  Albes  would  call  forth  such  a  burst 
of  indignation  as  would  compel  the  general  to  yield. 
But  the  senators  sat  pale  and  trembling,  and  none  of 
them  dared  to  speak  a  word  except  a  certain  Fidelius, 


whom  Belisarius  had  made  Praetorian  Prefect,  and 
who  loaded  the  Goths  with  abuse. 

The  envoys  went  back  to  the  Gothic  camp,  and 
were  received  by  Witigis  with  the  eager  inquiry, 
"  What  sort  of  a  man  is  BeHsarius  ?  Is  he  going  to 
give  way  ? "  They  repHed  with  emphasis  that  the 
Goths  had  made  a  great  mistake  in  thinking  they 
could  frighten  that  man  by  anything  they  could  say 
or  do.  On  receiving  this  report  the  king  hurried  on 
his  preparations  for  taking  the  city  by  storm. 

The  preparations  were  on  a  magnificent  scale.  All 
the  machines  which  the  miHtary  engineers  of  those 
times  were  able  to  devise  for  the  assault  on  a  fortress 
were  constructed  in  large  numbers.  There  were  wooden 
towers  on  wheels  equal  in  height  to  the  walls  of  the 
city.  These  were  intended  to  be  dragged  by  ojxen 
close  up  to  thQ  walls,  so  that  the  archers  on  the  top 
could  fight  on  a  level  with  the  defenders  of  the  ram- 
parts. Then  there  were  the  battering-rams,  which 
consisted  of  huge  beams  of  wood,  each  carrying  a 
block  of  iron  at  the  end  and  suspended  in  chains  from 
a  wooden  framework.  The  machine  moved  on  four 
wheels,  and  was  worked  from  within  by  fifty  men 
who  dragged  back  the  heavy  "  ram,"  and  then  allowed 
it  to  swing  against  the  wall.  The  whole  structure 
was  covered  with  skins  to  protect  the  men  who  were 
inside.  Scaling-ladders,  too,  were  prepared  to  be 
used  when  the  soldiers  on  the  wooden  towers  should 
have  succeeded  in  clearing  a  portion  of  the  wall  of  its 
defenders ;  and  fascines^  that  is  to  say,  bundles  of 
reeds  and  brushwood,  were  made  in  order  to  fi^l  up  the 
ditch  so  as  to  make  a  road  across  it  for  the  machines. 



Belisarius  for  his  part  was  equally  busy  in  or- 
ganizing the  defence.  His  army  had  dwindled  down 
to  five  thousand  men,  and  it  cost  him  a  great  deal  of 
thought  to  distribute  this  little  force  to  the  best 
advantage.  The  tomb  of  the  great  emperor  Hadrian, 
a  vast  building  faced  with  marble,  which  stood  in  the 
line  of  the  city  wall  at  the  western  end  of  the  ^lian 
Bridge,  was  converted  into  a  fort,^  and  such  it  has 
continued  to  be  till  this  day,  when  it  is  known  as  the 
Castle  of  St.  Angelo.     All  round  the  walls  of  the  city 

{Castle  of  St.  Angelo.) 

Belisarius  mounted  those  destructive  engines  which 
served  the  Romans  as  artillery  —  machines  which 
hurled  immense  stones  and  bolts  of  iron  with  tre- 
mendous velocity  and  effect. 

It  was  not  till  the  eighteenth  day  of  the  siege  that 
the  Goths  considered  themselves  ready  to  begin  the 

^  It  is  usually  supposed,  however,  that  this  had  been  done  at  an 
earlier  date.  At  any  rate,  Belisarius  repaired  and  greatly  strengthened 
the  building. 


attack.  As  soon  as  the  sun  rose  the  Romans  gathered 
on  the  northern  wall  saw  with  terror  the  countless 
host  of  the  enemy  approaching  with  their  battering- 
rams  and  their  siege-towers  drawn  by  oxen.  The 
citizens  gave  themselves  up  for  lost,  but  their  fears 
became  mixed  with  indignation  when  Belisarius, 
instead  of  seeming  to  appreciate  the  gravity  of  the 
situation,  actually  burst  out  laughing,  and  ordered  the 
soldiers  not  to  shoot  an  arrow  till  he  gave  the  word. 
"  What  might  such  conduct  mean  ?  Was  it  madness, 
or  worse  than  madness  ?  "  were  the  questions  which 
one  asked  of  another  among  the  crowd.  At  last, 
when  the  enemy  had  reached  the  very  edge  of  the 
moat,  Belisarius  took  up  a  bow  and  aimed  at  one  of 
the  Gothic  leaders.  The  man  was  clothed  in  armour, 
but  the  arrow  hit  him  in  the  neck,  and  he  fell  to  the 
ground  mortally  wounded.  The  Romans,  startled 
out  of  their  discontent,  burst  into  a  great  cheer,  which 
was  renewed  when  the  general  again  drew  his  bow 
with  a  like  result.  And  then  Belisarius  gave  the 
signal  to  the  whole  army  to  discharge  their  arrows, 
ordering  those  in  his  own  neighbourhood  to  aim  only 
at  the  oxen.  In  a  few  moments  all  the  oxen  were 
killed,  and  the  huge  machines  which  they  drew  were 
rendered  useless.  It  was  easy  to  see  now  what  Belisa- 
rius had  been  laughing  at,  and  why  he  had  allowed 
the  enemy  to  come  so  close  before  allowing  his  archers 
to  use  their  weapons. 

When  Witigis  saw  that  the  attack  on  the  northern 
side  of  the  city  had  failed,  he  determined  to  direct 
his  efforts  to  the  eastern  side — to  the  neighbourhood 
of  the  Prainestine  gate,  towards  which  another  body 

240  fHE    YEAR-LONG    SIEGE. 

of  Goths  was  approaching,  also  with  their  siege- 
towers  and  battering-rams.  But  he  left  a  large 
detachment  of  his  army  on  the  northern  side,  leaving 
orders  that  they  should  not  make  any  attempt  to 
storm  the  walls,  but  should  keep  up  a  vigorous  dis- 
charge of  arrows,  so  that  Belisarius  might  not  suspect 
that  the  main  assault  was  being  attempted  elsewhere. 
Those  who  were  left  behind  did  their  best  to  carry 
out  these  instructions,  but  fighting  on  the  level 
ground  against  men  posted  on  the  wall  they  were 
not  able  to  produce  much  effect.  There  was,  how- 
ever, amongst  them  one  famous  warrior  of  noble 
rank,  who  found  a  substitute  for  the  siege-tower  in 
a  tall  tree,  to  the  top  of  which  he  climbed,  notwith- 
standing the  weight  of  his  helmet  and  cuirass,  and 
from  that  elevated  position  was  able  to  do  much 
execution  amongst  the  defenders  of  the  ramparts. 
At  last  he  was  hit  by  a  shot  from  one  of  the  Roman 
engines.  The  iron  bolt  went  right  through  the  man's 
steel-clad  body,  and  pinned  him  to  the  tree.  His 
comrades  were  so  much  aghast  at  the  sight  that  they 
retired  to  a  safe  distance  out  of  the  way  of  those 
terrible  machines,  and  the  defenders  of  that  portion 
of  the  walls  were  no  more  molested. 

But  now  Belisarius  received  a  message  to  say  that 
the  assault  on  the  eastern  fortifications  had  begun. 
He  hastened  to  the  spot,  and  by  a  few  timely  words 
encouraged  his  soldiers,  who  had  begun  to  lose  heart 
when  they  saw  the  numbers  and  equipment  of  the 
enemy.  Near  the  Praenestine  gate  was  a  space  en- 
closed between  the  city  rampart  and  an  outer  wall, 
where  in  heathen  days  were  kept  the  wild  beasts  in- 


'tended  for  the  cruel  sports  of  the  amphitheatre.  The 
Goths  broke  through  the  outer  wall,  and  crowded 
into  the  enclosure.  The  inner  wall,  they  had  been 
truly  informed,  was  much  decayed,  and  they  thought 
it  would  give  them  little  trouble.  But  Belisarius 
directed  one  of  his  chief  officers  to  make  a  sally 
upon  the  throng  collected  between  the  walls.  The 
unexpected  attack  threw  the  Goths  into  confusion, 
and  they  were  slaughtered  by  thousands  almost  unre- 
sisting, thinking  only  of  making  their  escape  by  the 
breach  through  which  they  had  entered.  Then, 
opening  the  gate,  Belisarius  issued  with  the  main 
body  of  his  army  to  pursue  the  fugitives,  who  imparted 
their  terror  to  their  comrades  beyond  the  outer  wall. 
Soon  the  besiegers  were  all  in  headlong  flight,  and 
Belisarius  ordered  a  great  fire  to  be  made  of  their 
forsaken  towers  and  battering-rams. 

What  happened  else  during  this  eventful  day  need 
not  be  told  in  detail.  It  may  be  mentioned  that  in  their 
attack  on  the  fort  that  had  been  Hadrian's  tomb  the 
Goths  were  nearly  winning,  until  it  occurred  to  the 
defenders  to  pull  down  the  statues,  and  hurl  them, 
whole  or  in  fragments,  upon  the  heads  of  their 
assailants.  More  than  one  famous  work  of  Greek 
sculpture  has  been  found  in  modern  times  in  the 
moat  which  surrounds  the  Castle  of  St.  Angelo  ; 
probably  many  another  lies  buried  there  still.  The 
sacrifice  of  the  statues  saved  the  fortress :  the  besiegers 
abated  the  fury  of  their  assault,  and  then  the  imperial 
soldiers,  set  free  by  the  termination  of  the  fighting  in 
other  parts  of  the  city,  came  up  and  soon  put  them  to 


On  all  sides  the  Gothic  attack  had  ended  in  disaster. 
Thirty  thousand  Goths  had  been  slain,  and  many- 
thousands  wounded,  and  the  towers  and  the  battering- 
rams  were  captured  and  burnt  It  was  far  on  in  the 
evening  when  the  battle  ceased.  "The  Romans  spent 
the  night  in  singing  songs  of  victory,  extolling  the 
fame  of  Belisarius,  and  displaying  the  spoils  taken 
from  the  slain  ;  the  Goths  in  attending  on  their 
wounded  comrades,  and  in  wailing  for  those  that  were 
no  more." 

After  this  crushing  failure  no  further  attempt  was 
made  to  storm  the  walls  of  Rome.  Through  the 
remainder  of  the  long  siege  the  aim  of  Witigis  was 
to  compel  Belisarius  to  surrender  under  pressure  of 
hunger,  or  to  tempt  him  to  squander  the  lives  of  his 
little  garrison  in  fruitless  sorties. 

Belisarius  guessed  at  once  that  the  Goths,  now  that 
their  assault  had  decisively  failed,  would  endeavour 
to  establish  an  efficient  blockade.  He,  therefore, 
promptly  took  measures  for  economizing  the  stock 
of  provisions  in  the  city.  On  the  very  day  after  the 
battle  he  ordered  that  the  daily  rations  of  food  to  the 
soldiers  should  be  reduced  to  one-half,  the  diminution 
being  compensated  by  increased  pay  in  money  ;  and 
all  the  women,  children,  and  slaves  in  the  city  were 
sent  away  to  Naples,  some  of  them  being  conveyed 
in  boats,  others  travelling  on  foot  along  the  Appian 
Way.  It  would  have  been  to  the  interest  of  the 
Goths  to  prevent  this  procession  of  non-combatants 
from  escaping  from  Rome  ;  but  they  were  so  dis- 
couraged by  their  defeat  of  yesterday  that  nothing 
was  done.     And  so  the  fugitives  all  found  their  way 


to  Naples,  whence  some  of  them  were  removed  to  the 
other  south  Italian  towns,  and  others  took  refuge  in 

What  made  Belisarius  anxious  was  that  he  received 
no  tidings  of  the  additional  troops  that  the  emperor 
had  promised  to  send  him.  They  had  sailed  from 
Constantinople  about  Christmas,  but,  meeting  with 
stormy  weather,  had  sought  shelter  on  the  western 
coast  of  Greece,  and  there  they  still  remained. 
Belisarius  could  not  understand  this  strange  delay, 
and  wrote  a  letter  to  Justinian,  telling  him  that  unless 
aid  came  speedily  Rome  must  surely  fall.  The  letter 
concluded  with  these  words :  "  I  know  that  it  is 
my  duty  to  sacrifice  even  my  life  in  your  service, 
and  therefore  no  force  shall  make  me  abandon  this 
place  while  I  live.  But  what  sort  of  fame  will  be 
yours  if  you  allow  Belisarius  to  come  to  such  an 
end  .? " 

Justinian  was  deeply  moved  by  this  appeal,  and 
sent  peremptory  orders  to  the  lagging  commanders, 
Valerian  and  Martin,  that  they  should  push  forward 
with  all  speed  to  Rome.  He  also  made  vigorous 
efforts  to  raise  a  new  army  to  be  sent  to  the  aid  of  his 
heroic  general.  In  a  few  days  Belisarius  was  able  to 
cheer  the  hearts  of  his  soldiers  by  reading  to  them  the 
emperor's  letter,  announcing  that  the  wished-for  rein- 
forcements were  on  their  way. 

It  was  not  until  twenty-two  days  after  the  attempted 
storm  that  Valerian  and  Martin,  with  sixteen  hundred 
men,  arrived  in  Rome.  The  Goths  had  made  little  use 
of  the  delay  ;  indeed  they  were  so  discouraged  by  the 
failure  of  their  assault  that  they  scarcely  attempted  to 

244  ^^^    YEAR-LONG   SIEGE. 

guard  the  roads  leading  to  Rome  from  the  south,  but 
remained  idle  in  their  entrenchments. 

By  way  of  revenge  for  the  losses  he  had  sustained, 
Witigis  despatched  orders  that  the  senators  detained 
as  hostages  at  Ravenna  should  be  put  to  death. 
According  to  the  laws  of  war  these  men  had  forfeited 
their  lives  ;  but  the  execution  of  the  penalty  was  as 
foolish  as  it  was  cruel,  for  the  only  effect  it  could  have 
was  to  embitter  the  hatred  which  the  Romans  felt  for 
their  former  barbarian  masters,  and  to  inspire  them 
with  the  resolve  to  fight  to  the  bitter  end. 

When  the  sixteen  hundred  new  soldiers  had  entered 
Rome,  Belisarius  ventured  to  send  out  skirmishing 
parties  of  mounted  archers  to  make  attacks  upon  the 
Goths.  Their  tactics  were  to  avoid  all  close  fighting, 
but  simply  to  discharge  their  arrows  at  the  enemy, 
and  when  their  quivers  were  empty  to  gallop  back  to 
the  gates.  This  mode  of  combat  proved  perfectly 
successful.  The  little  bands  did  fearful  execution 
with  their  bows,  and  the  pursuit  of  the  enemy  was 
easily  stopped  b}^  volleys  of  stones  from  the  engines 
on  the  walls.  After  this  manoeuvre  had  been  repeated 
several  times,  Witigis  thought  he  had  discovered  a 
valuable  secret  of  Roman  warfare.  It  was  plain  that 
small  bodies  of  light  horse  were  more  easily  managed 
than  masses  of  heavy  troops,  and  afforded  the  most 
effective  means  of  inflicting  damage  upon  an  enemy. 
Accordingly,  he  sent  a  troop  of  five  hundred  cavalry, 
with  orders  to  take  up  their  position  near  the  Roman 
fortifications.  What  happened  was  that  a  thousand 
picked  men  issued  from  one  of  the  gates  some  distance 
away,   and,   under   cover   of  the  inequalities  of  the 



ground,  came  suddenly  on  the  five  hundred  Goths, 
took  them  in  the  rear,  and  left  only  a  few  of  them 
alive  to  return  to  their  camp.  King  Witigis  raved 
and  stormed  about  their  cowardice,  and  said  he  would 
soon  find  others  who  would  succeed  where  they  had 
failed.  Three  days  afterwards  a  second  five  hundred, 
chosen  for  their  known  bravery  out  of  all  the  seven 
camps,  were  sent  to  avenge  the  defeat  of  their 
comrades,  and,  before  setting  out,  were  harangued 
by  the  king,  who  bade  them  act  worthily  of  the  fame 
they  had  won  in  former  battles.  Bravely  they  may 
have  fought,  but  they  were  met  by  a  Roman  force  of 
three  times  their  number,  and  perished  almost  to  a 

Belisarius  wished  to  continue  this  method  of  skir- 
mishing, by  which  he  was  able  to  do  the  enemy  a 
great  deal  of  mischief  with  very  little  loss  on  his  own 
side.  His  troops  had  been  thoroughly  trained  in  the 
art  of  using  the  bow  on  horseback  ;  to  the  Goths  that 
mode  of  warfare  was  quite  unfamiliar,  so  that  when 
it  was  employed  against  them  they  did  not  know 
how  to  meet  it.  But  unfortunately  for  the  Romans, 
their  easily  won  victories  had  inspired  them  with  an 
unwise  contempt  for  the  enemy,  and  they  implored 
Belisarius  to  lead  them  in  one  grand  assault  on  the 
Gothic  camp.  He  was  very  unwilling  to  do  this,  but 
the  army  showed  great  discontent  at  his  refusal,  and 
the  feeling  was  encouraged  by  the  citizens,  who 
actually  assailed  the  general  wnth  reproaches  for  his 
want  of  courage,  because  he  dared  not  risk  a  pitched 
battle  with  an  enemy  that  outnumbered  his  own 
troops  more  than  tenfold.     At  last  Belisarius  thought 


it  might  be  better  to  yield  to  the  demand  than  to 
provoke  a  mutiny.  Perhaps,  after  all,  he  thought, 
just  at  this  moment,  when  the  Romans  were  full  of 
ardour,  and  the  enemy  was  disheartened  by  con- 
tinued ill-fortune,  it  might  be  possible  to  win  a  battle 
even  against  such  overwhelming  odds. 

It  was  with  grave  anxiety  that  Belisarius  led  forth 
his  little  army  against  the  foe.  King  Witigis  had 
been  informed  by  deserters  of  the  intended  attack, 
and  he  marshalled  all  his  troops  in  battle  array, 
leaving  none  in  the  camps  but  the  sick  and  wounded. 
His  speech  to  his  soldiers,  as  reported  by  the  Roman 
historian,  was  not  without  dignity.  "  You  know,"  he 
said,  "that  I  have  always  treated  you  more  as  friends 
and  fellow-soldiers  than  as  subjects.  Some  of  you 
may  think  that  I,  in  so  doing,  have  merely  flattered 
you  because  I  feared  the  loss  of  my  crown  ;  and  you 
may  think  that  it  is  from  the  same  motive  that  I  now 
call  on  you  to  put  forth  all  your  valour.  Such  sus- 
picions are  natural,  and  I  cannot  blame  them.  But, 
in  truth,  I  would  thankfully  lay  aside  this  purple  robe 
to-day,  if  I  knew  that  another  Goth  would  wear  it  in 
my  stead.  Whatever  ill  might  happen  to  myself,  it 
would  not  be  without  consolation,  if  my  people  did 
not  share  in  it.  But  I  remember  the  fate  of  the 
Vandals.  I  seem  to  see  the  Goths  and  their  children 
sold  for  slaves,  their  wives  abandoned  to  the  insults 
of  the  vilest  of  men,  and  their  queen,  the  child  of 
Theoderic's  daughter,  led  away  whithersoever  it 
might  please  our  enemies.  Will  you  not  chose  a 
glorious  death  rather  than  safety  on  such  terms?  If 
such  be  your  spirit,  you   will    easily  vanquish  these 


few  wretched  Greeks,  to  whom  you  are  as  far  supe- 
rior in  valour  as  in  numbers,  and  will  inflict  on  them 
the  chastisement  they  deserve  for  all  the  wrongs  and 
insults  they  have  made  you  suffer." 

The  result  of  the  battle  justified  the  misgivings 
of  Belisarius.  After  much  hard  fighting,  the  Romans 
were  put  to  flight,  the  enemy  pursuing  them  hotly 
almost  to  the  walls.  A  (qw  of  them  succeeded  in 
passing  through  the  gates,  and  hastily  closed  them, 
leaving  their  comrades  gathered  in  a  dense  mass  be- 
tween the  ditch  and  the  wall.  Their  spears  were 
broken,  and  they  were  so  crowded  together  that  they 
could  not  use  their  bows.  If  the  Goths  had  ventured 
to  cross  the  ditch  they  might  have  massacred  their 
enemies  without  difficulty  ;  but  the  soldiers  and 
citizens  began  to  assemble  upon  the  wall,  and  the 
besiegers  were  afraid  to  pursue  their  advantage. 
They  retired  to  their  encampment  with  shouts  of 
exultation  over  their  victory. 

The  Roman  soldiers  had  received  a  severe  lesson, 
and  never  again  ventured  to  distrust  the  sagacity  of 
their  general.  Belisarius  resumed  his  plan  of  skir- 
mishing with  mounted  archers,  and,  as  before,  was 
nearly  always  victorious.  So  passed  away  the  next 
three  months  of  the  siege.  The  historian  Procopius, 
who  was  with  Belisarius  in  Rome,  has  preserved  for 
us  many  incidents  of  the  conflicts  that  took  place 
during  this  period.  One  of  these  stories  is  perhaps 
worth  repeating  here.  On  a  certain  evening  ii  happened 
that  the  Roman  soldiers  had  been  worsted  in  a  skir- 
mish, and  one  of  them  in  his  flight  fell  through  a  hole 
into  an  underground  vault,  from  which  he  could  find 


no  means  of  escape.  He  did  not  dare  to  cry  out, 
lest  he  should  be  heard  by  the  Goths,  and  so  he  re- 
mained there  all  the  night.  The  next  day  a  Gothic 
soldier  suffered  the  same  mishap  ;  and  the  Goth  and 
the  Roman,  finding  themselves  prisoners  together, 
became  good  friends,  and  agreed  that  if  either  of 
them  succeeded  in  getting  out  of  the  trap  he  would 
help  the  other  to  escape  also.  They  both  shouted 
with  all  their  might,  and  at  last  they  were  heard  by 
a  party  of  Goths,  who  stooped  down  to  the  hole,  and 
called  out  "Who  is  there?"  "A  comrade,"  the 
Gothic  soldier  replied,  in  his  own  language  ;  "  I  fell 
into  this  hole  this  morning,  and  cannot  get  out."  A 
rope  was  lowered  into  the  vault,  and  there  ascended, 
not  the  Goth,  but  the  Roman  !  The  Gothic  soldiers 
were  stupefied  with  amazement.  "  There  were  two 
of  us,"  the  Roman  explained  ;  "  your  comrade  is  still 
below.  We  knew  very  well  that  if  he  had  come  out 
first  you  would  not  have  troubled  yourselves  about 
w^."  So  the  rope  was  let  down  again,  and  this  time 
it  brought  up  the  Goth,  who  said  that  he  had  given 
his  word  that  his  fellow-prisoner  should  be  set  at 
liberty.  The  promise  was  respected,  and  the  Roman 
soldier  was  allowed  to  return  to  the  city,  none  the 
worse  for  his  adventure. 

About  midsummer  a  certain  Euthalius  landed  at 
Terracina,  sixty-two  miles  from  Rome  along  the 
Appian  Way,  bringing  with  him  the  pay  which  was 
due  to  the  soldiers.  The  treasure  was  conveyed  safely 
into  Rome,  but  at  that  moment  food  would  have  been 
more  welcome  than  gold  ;  for  the  besieged  people 
were  now  beginning  to  feel  the  pangs  of  hunger. 

THE   sybil's  prophecy.  249 

Probably  Witigis  got  to  hear  that  a  large  sum  of 
money  had  been  brought  into  Rome,  and  this  may 
have  been  what  made  him  think  of  blockading  the 
southern  approaches  to  the  city.  It  is  strange  that 
he  should  not  have  done  this  long  before,  but  he 
seems  to  have  clung  to  the  hope  that  the  place  might 
be  taken  by  storm.  Now,  however,  he  took  posses- 
sion of  a  point  about  four  miles  from  Rome,  where 
two  lines  of  aqueducts  cross  one  another  twice  within 
a  few  hundred  yards,  and  he  converted  the  arches  of 
the  aqueducts  into  a  fortress,  commanding  the  Ap- 
pian  and  the  Latin  Ways.  Here  he  placed  a  guard 
of  seven  thousand  men. 

There  was  now  no  hope  that  any  further  supplies 
could  be  imported  into  the  city.  The  soldiers  had  still 
a  stock  of  corn,  but  all  their  other  provisions  were 
exhausted.  The  citizens  were  obliged  to  feed  on  the 
grass  and  weeds  that  grew  inside  the  walls.  Famine 
and  fever  were  every  day  lessening  the  numbers  of 
the  besieged. 

Until  July  was  ended,  the  courage  of  the  defenders 
was  sustained  by  superstition.  For  some  months 
past  people  had  quoted  a  couplet  which  professed  to 
be  a  prophecy  of  the  ancient  Sibyl,  and  which  said 
that  "  when  Ouintilis  (the  old  name  of  July)  had 
come,  a  new  emperor  would  ascend  the  throne,  and 
Rome  should  never  again  fear  the  Gothic  sword." 
Christians  though  the  Romans  were,  they  still  be- 
lieved in  the  Sibyl,  and  eagerly  accepted  every 
foolish  verse  that  was  uttered  in  her  name.  But 
Ouintilis  came  and  went,  and  still  Justinian  reigned 
and  still  the  Goths  surrounded  Rome. 


The  last  hope  of  the  citizens  was  gone,  and  in 
desperation  they  went  to  BeHsarius,  and  begged  him 
to  give  them  arms.  "  Let  us  fight  for  ourselves," 
they  said,  "  and  either  conquer  or  end  our  miseries  by 
a  speedy  death."  Belisarius  ridiculed  their  demand, 
and  told  them  that  having  never  learned  to  fight  they 
would  be  worse  than  useless  in  the  field.  "  But,"  he 
added,  "  I  expect  in  a  few  days  the  arrival  of  the 
greatest  army  that  the  empire  has  ever  mustered. 
These  new  troops  have  already  landed  in  the  south 
of  Italy,  and  will  bring  with  them  ample  supplies 
of  provisions.  I  promise  you  that  they  will  bury 
the  enemy's  camp  with  the  multitude  of  their 

This  was  only  an  empty  boast.  There  was  indeed 
a  rumour  that  an  imperial  army  was  on  the  way, 
but  Belisarius  knew  nothing  for  certain.  However, 
he  despatched  his  secretary  Procopius  to  Naples  to 
see  what  truth  there  was  in  the  story,  and  if  it  should 
not  be  true,  to  collect  what  soldiers  he  could,  and  to 
send  victuals  by  sea  to  relieve  the  needs  of  the 

Procopius  reached  Naples  in  safety  ;  the  expected 
troops  had  not  yet  been  heard  of,  but  he  was  able  to  get 
together  a  band  of  five  hundred  men,  and  to  fit  out  a 
large  number  of  ships  and  load  them  with  provisions. 
Before  his  preparations  were  completed,  the  promised 
army  arrived  from  Constantinople — not  the  innume- 
rable host  of  which  Belisarius  had  boasted,  but  only 
about  five  thousand  men.  Late  in  the  autumn  this 
body  of  soldiers  arrived  at  Ostia,  at  the  mouth  of  the 
Tiber,  half  of  them  having  travelled  by  the  Appian 


Way,  and  the  rest  having  come  by  sea  in  charge  of 
the  victualling  fleet  collected  by  Procopius. 

Meanwhile  King  Witigis  had  managed  matters  so 
badly  that  his  own  army  was  suffering  from  want  of 
food.  Famine  and  fever  too  were  rapidly  thinning 
the  ranks  of  the  besiegers,  and  they  grew  so  spiritless 
that  the  Romans  were  able  to  assume  the  offensive, 
and  even  to  intercept  the  supplies  of  corn  and  of  cattle 
on  their  way  to  the  Gothic  camp. 

So  when  the  Goths  heard  that  "an  immense  army" 
— for  this  was  what  rumour  called  it — was  coming 
to  the  relief  of  Rome,  they  abandoned  all  hope  of 
victory,  and  were  anxious  to  treat  for  peace.  Our 
old  friend,  Cassiodorus,  accompanied  by  two  Gothic 
chiefs,  was  sent  into  the  city  to  try  to  induce  Belisarius 
to  come  to  terms. 

The  envoys  were  admitted  into  the  general's  pre- 
sence, and  Cassiodorus  began  by  saying  that  as  the  war 
hitherto  had  been  productive  of  nothing  but  misery 
to  either  party,  it  would  be  to  the  interest  of  both  if 
by  mutual  concession  they  could  arrive  at  some  under- 
standing so  as  to  put  an  end  to  the  struggle.  He 
proposed  that  the  matter  should  be  discussed,  not  in 
set  speeches,  but  in  an  informal  conversation,  so  tliat 
each  point  should  be  fully  dealt  with  at  the  time  when 
it  was  raised.  "  Very  well,"  said  Belisarius,  "  there  is 
no  objection  to  that,  if  only  what  you  hav^e  to  say  is 
to  the  purpose."  But  Cassiodorus  could  not  resist 
the  temptation  to  make  a  long  speech,  in  which  he 
argued  that  the  emperor  had  no  justification  for  the 
attack  he  had  made  upon  the  Goths.  Theoderic  had 
not  taken  Italy  by  force  from  the  empire  :   it  had  been 


made  over  to  him  by  Zeno,  on  condition  of  his 
putting  down  the  tyrant  Odovacar.  He  had  ful- 
filled the  condition,  and  he  and  his  successors  had 
ruled  Italy  according  to  Roman  law,  and  with  every 
regard  to  the  welfare  of  the  native  inhabitants.  It 
was  therefore  the  duty  of  the  Romans  to  desist 
from  their  unjust  encroachments.  Let  them  retire 
from  Italy  with  the  booty  they  had  taken,  and  leave 
the  Goths  to  govern  their  rightful  dominions  in 

All  this  reasoning  was  very  sound,  but  it  was  not 
likely  to  make  any  impression  on  Belisarius.  He 
replied  that  Theoderic  had  been  sent  to  conquer  Italy 
for  the  empire  to  which  it  belonged,  and  instead  of 
fulfilling  his  commission  he  had  usurped  the  throne 
himself  "  I  do  not  see,"  he  added,  "  much  difference 
between  robbery  and  embezzlement.  The  country 
belongs  to  the  emperor,  and  it  is  useless  to  ask  me  to 
give  it  to  any  one  else.  If  you  have  any  other  request 
to  make  say  on." 

"  You  know  very  well,"  answered  Cassiodorus,  "  that 
we  have  spoken  nothing  but  the  truth.  But  as  a  proof 
of  our  wish  to  make  every  honourable  concession,  we 
agree  that  you  shall  retain  possession  of  Sicily  " — and 
then,  with  his  accustomed  eloquence,  he  proceeded  to 
favour  Belisarius  with  statistics  about  the  size  of  the 
island,  and  the  revenues  which  it  yielded  every  year, 
and  to  enlarge  on  its  importance  from  a  military  point 
of  view. 

"  We  are  greatly  obliged  to  you,"  said  Belisarius. 
*'  In  return  for  so  great  generosity,  we  will  grant  you 
the   possession  of  the  whole  of  Britain.     That  is  a 

A    TRUCE   AGREED    UPON.  253 

larger  island  than  Sicily,  and  it  tised  to  belong  to  us, 
just  as  Sicily  once  belonged  to  you." 

The  Goths  then  suggested  that  they  might  give  up 
Naples  and  the  whole  south  of  Italy,  and  agree  to  pay 
a  yearly  tribute  to  the  emperor.  But  Belisarius  had 
only  one  reply  :  that  he  had  no  authority  to  surrender 
any  of  the  territories  of  the  empire. 

"  Well  then,"  said  Cassiodorus,  "  will  you  agree  to 
a  truce  for  a  fixed  time,  so  that  we  may  send  ambas- 
sadors to  Constantinople  to  negotiate  a  treaty  with 
the  emperor  himself?" 

Belisarius  accepted  this  proposal,  and  the  envoys 
went  back  to  their  camp. 

Several  days  were  spent  in  settling  the  conditions 
of  the  truce,  and  in  debating  what  hostages  should  be 
given  on  each  side.  In  the  meantime  Belisarius  had 
brought  the  new  soldiers,  and  the  cargoes  of  the  pro- 
vision ships,  safely  up  from  Ostia  into  Rome.  The 
Goths  dared  not  offer  any  opposition,  thinking  that  if 
they  did  so,  Belisarius  would  break  off  the  negotia- 

At  length,  however,  about  Christmas,  the  articles 
were  signed  for  a  truce  of  three  months  ;  the  hostages 
were  exchanged,  and  the  Gothic  ambassadors  set  out 
for  Constantinople,  accompanied  by  a  Roman  escort. 
Belisarius  then  sent  two  thousand  soldiers,  under  the 
command  of  a  certain  John,  of  whom  we  shall  often 
hear  again,  to  Alba  Fucentia,  seventy  miles  east  of 
Rome.  John  was  instructed  to  remain  quiet  so  long 
as  the  truce  was  unbroken  ;  but  as  soon  as  the  Goths 
committed  any  act  of  hostility,  he  was  to  ravage  the 
Gothic  territories,  to  carry  off  the  women  and  children 

254  ^-^^    YEAR- LONG    SIEGE. 

as  slaves,  and  to  bring  back  all  the  plunder  of  every 
kind  that  he  could. 

The  required  pretext  was  not  long  wanting.  It 
seems  almost  incredible  that  Witigis  should  have  been 
foolish  enough  to  violate  the  truce  which  he  had  sought 
with  so  much  eagerness,  but  the  historian  tells  of  three 
different  attempts  which  he  made  to  surprise  the  city. 
One  dark  night  a  sentinel,  looking  out  from  the  watch- 
tower  at  the  Pincian  gate,  reported  that  he  had  seen  a 
sudden  flash  of  light  close  to  the  ground  a  short  dis- 
tance from  the  wall.  His  comrades  thought  he  had 
seen  the  flaming  eyes  of  a  wolf  But  when,  on  the 
following  day,  Belisarius  heard  the  story,  he  guessed 
at  once  that  the  Goths,  imitating  his  own  stratagem 
at  Naples,  were  trying  to  get  into  the  city  through  an 
aqueduct,  and  that  what  the  man  had  seen  was  the 
light  of  their  torches  streaming  for  a  moment  through 
a  crack  in  the  tunnel.  The  aqueduct  was  examined, 
and  there  were  found  in  it  the  droppings  of  torches 
and  some  Gothic  lamps.  The  party  of  explorers  had 
been  stopped  by  the  wall  with  which  Belisarius  had 
blocked  up  the  passage,  and  they  had  carried  away 
one  of  the  stones  to  show  to  Witigis  in  proof  of  the 
truth  of  their  story.  Belisarius  placed  a  guard  over 
the  aqueduct,  and  the  Goths  made  no  attempt  to 
enter  the  city  by  that  means. 

On  another  occasion  the  Goths  had  prepared 
scaling-ladders  and  torches  to  make  an  attack  during 
the  hour  of  the  soldier's  midday  meal,  but  the  plan 
was  discovered,  and  the  assaulting  party  was  dispersed 
with  some  loss.  The  third  scheme  of  Witigis  was  to 
bribe  two  Romans  who  lived  near  the  part  of  the  wall 

THE    TRUCE   BROKEN.  255 

bordering  on  the  Tiber,  to  treat  the  sentinels  with 
drugged  wine.  When  the  sentinels  had  fallen  asleep, 
the  Goths  were  to  make  their  entrance  by  means  of 
boats  and  ladders.  One  of  the  Romans  who  had 
entered  into  the  plot  betrayed  it  to  Belisarius  ;  and 
pointed  out  his  accomplice,  who  confessed  his  guilt 
and  was  sent  to  the  Gothic  camp  tied  upon  an  ass 
and  with  his  nose  and  ears  cut  off. 

After  these  events,  Belisarius  of  course  considered 
himself  to  be  no  longer  bound  by  the  truce,  and  he 
sent  letters  to  John  ordering  him  to  commence  hos- 
tilities at  once.  John  was  nothing  loth  to  obey  ;  he 
was  the  bravest  of  the  brave,  but  as  cruel  as  he 
was  fearless  (John  the  Sanguinary,  he  was  called 
in  his  own  day),  and  the  sight  of  burning  farms  and 
strings  of  weeping  captive  women  and  children  only 
filled  his  heart  with  brutal  joy.  With  his  two 
thousand  horsemen  he  hurried  northward,  plunder- 
ing and  destroying  all  that  belonged  to  Gothic 
owners,  but  respecting  scrupulously  the  possessions 
of  the  native  Italians.  An  army  of  Goths,  under 
under  Wilitheus,  the  uncle  of  King  Witigis,  came  to 
meet  him,  but  the  battle  resulted  in  the  death  of 
Wilitheus  and  the  slaughter  of  most  of  his  men.  After 
this  victory^.-  John  marched  forward  unopposed  to 
Rimini,  on  the  Adriatic,  whither  he  was  invited  by 
the  Roman  inhabitants.  The  Gothic  garrison,  as  soon 
as  they  heard  of  his  approach,  ran  away  to  Ravenna, 
and  John  occupied  Rimini  without  a  struggle. 

While  John  was  at  Rimini  he  received  letters  from 
Queen  Mataswintha,  offering  to  betray  the  Goths  into 
his  hands  and  to  become  his  wife.     No  doubt  the  pro- 


posal  included  the  murder  of  Witigis,  whom  she  hated 
with  all  her  heart  for  having  forced  her  to  marry  him. 

In  pressing  forward  to  the  Adriatic,  John  was  dis- 
obeying Belisarius's  orders,  which  were  to  assault  every 
fortress  that  he  came  to,  and  if  he  were  unable  to 
capture  it  then  to  proceed  no  further,  lest  his  retreat 
should  be  cut  off.  He  thought,  however,  that  when 
the  Goths  heard  that  he  had  captured  Rimini,  which 
was  only  a  day's  march  from  Ravenna,  they  would  at 
once  abandon  the  siege  of  Rome.  He  had  calculated 
rightly.  The  three  months  of  truce  was  ended  ; 
nothing  had  been  heard  from  Constantinople  ;  the 
camp  was  destitute  of  provisions,  and  the  city  was  in 
a  better  condition  of  defence  than  ever.  And  when 
to  all  these  discouraging  circumstances  there  was 
added  the  news  that  Ravenna  was  threatened  by  the 
enemy,  Witigis  delayed  no  longer.  Early  one  morn- 
ing (near  the  end  of  March,  538),  the  sentinels  on  the 
walls  of  Rome  reported  that  the  seven  Gothic  camps 
had  been  set  on  fire,  and  that  the  whole  army  of  the 
besiegers  was  moving  northward  along  the  Flaminian 

Belisarius  was  somewhat  taken  by  surprise  at  this 
sudden  departure,  and  felt  at  first  doubtful  whether  it 
would  not  be  best  to  allow  the  enemy  to  retreat  un- 
molested. But  the  fact  that  the  Gothic  army  would 
have  to  cross  the  Milvian  Bridge, two  miles  from  Rome, 
rendered  it  possible  for  an  attack  on  their  rear  to  be 
successfully  made  with  a  small  force.  Belisarius 
armed  all  his  soldiers,  and,  waiting  till  most  of  the 
Goths  had  crossed  the  river,  he  led  a  furious  charge 
on  those  that  were  still   on  the  nearest  bank.     After 



some  hard  fighting,  and  heavy  losses  on  both  sides, 
the  Goths  fled  in  confusion,  and  many  thousands  of 
them  perished,  some  by  the  swords  of  their  enemies, 
while  others,  in  their  frantic  haste  to  escape,  were 
crushed  to  death  by  their  comrades,  or  fell  into  the 
river  loaded  with  their  armour  and  were  drowned. 

So  ended  the  first  siege  of  Rome  by  the  Ostrogoths. 
Perhaps  never  in  the  history  of  warfare  were  such 
splendid  advantages  of  numbers  so  shamefully  thrown 
away  through  the  incompetence  of  a  general.  But  in 
spite  of  all,  the  nation  continued  faithful  to  the  king 
of  its  own  choice. 




Sorely  as  the  Gothic  ranks  had  been  thinned  by- 
famine,  pestilence,  and  the  sword,  it  was  still  an  enor- 
mous army  that  Witigis  led  away  from  the  walls  of 
Rome.  The  joy  that  Belisarius  felt  at  the  raising  of 
the  siege  was  mixed  with  some  anxiety,  for  the  way 
to  Ravenna  was  through  Rimini,  where  John,  still 
remained  with  his  two  thousand  horsemen.  The 
general  knew  the  headstrong  character  of  his  sub- 
ordinate, and  he  feared  that  John  might  allow  himself 
to  be  besieged  by  the  Goths,  and  that  the  consequence 
would  be  the  total  destruction  of  his  little  force. 

To  prevent  such  a  calamity  Belisarius  put  one  thou- 
sand horsemen  under  two  trusty  officers,  Hildiger  and 
Martin,  and  commanded  them  to  convey  to  John  his 
orders  to  withdraw  with  his  cavalry  from  Rimini, and  to 
leave  the  place  in  charge  of  a  small  garrison  of  foot- 
soldiers,  summoned  from  the  lately  taken  fortress  of 
Ancona.  Belisarius  thought  that  if  Witigis  found 
that  Rimini  contained  neither  cavalry  nor  any  officers 
important  enough  to  be  valuable  prisoners,  he  would 
not  think  it  worth  while  to  besiege  the  place  ;  and 
even  if  he  did  so,  John  and  his  horsemen  would  be 
able  to  cause  the  Goths  a  great  deal  of  annoyance, 


and    probably    to    compel    them    to    abandon    the 

Hildiger  and  Martin  found  no  difficulty  in  out- 
stripping the  slow  march  of  the  Goths.  On  their 
way  they  captured  a  Gothic  post  at  a  place  called  the 
Tunnelled  Rock  (Petra  Pertusa),  where  the  road  run- 
ning along  a  ledge  in  the  side  of  a  precipitous  cliff 
overhanging  a  deep  river-gorge,  passes  through  a 
tunnel  forty  feet  long,  cut  through  the  solid  rock  in 
the  time  of  the  emperor  Vespasian.  By  way  of 
securing  this  passage,  the  two  openings  had  been 
walled  up  and  provided  with  gates.  The  Goths 
made  no  attempt  at  fighting,  but  took  shelter  inside 
their  huts  at  the  farther  end  of  the  tunnel.  So  the 
Romans  climbed  up  to  the  top  of  the  cliffs,  and  dis- 
lodging huge  masses  of  rock  sent  them  rolling  down 
upon  the  roofs  of  the  huts.  The  Gothic  soldiers  then 
not  only  opened  the  gate,  but  offered  to  enter  the 
emperor's  service,  and  the  greater  part  of  them  ac- 
companied the  Roman  horsemen  on  their  forward 
march,  while  the  rest,  together  with  a  few  Romans, 
were  left  behind  to  guard  the  tunnel.  After  this, 
Hildiger  and  Martin  met  with  no  resistance,  and 
going  round  by  way  of  Ancona,  where  they  selected 
from  the  garrison  the  required  number  of  infantry, 
they  proceeded  to  Rimini,  and  delivered  their  orders 
to  John.  He  flatly  refused  to  obey,  and  the  two 
officers  went  back  to  Rome.  They  left  the  foot 
soldiers  behind,  but  taking  back  with  them  a  few  of 
the  garrison  of  Rimini,  who  being  part  of  Belisarius's 
own  guard  were  not  subject  to  John's  commands. 

Soon  afterwards  the  vast  army  of  the  Goths  arrived 


before  Rimini,  and  attempted  to  storm  the  walls  with 
the  help  of  a  wooden  tower  on  wheels,  like  those  which 
they  had  tried  to  employ  in  the  siege  of  Rome  ;  but, 
mindful  of  their  former  faijure,  they  contrived  that 
the  machine  should  be  propelled  by  men  inside  in- 
stead of  being  drawn  by  oxen.  Most  of  the  Romans, 
when  they  saw  these  preparations,  gave  themselves  up 
for  lost  ;  but  the  energy  of  John  was  equal  to  the  need. 
In  the  dead  of  night  he  issued  from  the  walls  with  a 
band  of  men  armed  with  spades,  and  dug  a  deep 
trench  between  the  siege  tower  and  the  walls.  So  the 
attack,  like  every  other  undertaking  managed  by 
King  Witigis,  resulted  in  failure  and  the  loss  of 
hundreds  of  Gothic  lives.  The  Goths  therefore 
determined  not  to  try  any  more  to  carry  the  city  by 
storm,  but  to  s-tarve  out  the  little  garrison  by  a  strict 
blockade — no  difficult  task,  unless,  as  did  not  seem 
likely,  Belisarius  should  be  able  to  send  a  powerful 
army  to  the  rescue. 

While  the  Goths  were  encamped  before  Rimini,  a 
body  of  a  thousand  Romans,  at  the  invitation  of  the 
citizens,  had  entered  the  great  city  of  Milan.  Witigis 
was  greatly  enraged  to  hear  of  the  faithlessness  of 
the  Milanese,  and  sent  his  nephew  Uraias  [Wraihya] 
with  a  large  detachment  of  his  army,  to  besiege  the 
city,  ordering  him,  when  it  should  be  taken,  to  show 
no  mercy  to  the  traitors.  Uraias  was  joined  by 
ten  thousand  Burgunds,  whom  the  Prankish  king 
Theudebert  had  sent  in  aid  of  the  Goths,  and  Milan 
was  so  closely  blockaded  that  no  food  could  be  brought 
into  the  city. 

Just  at  this  tirne  (about  rnidsummer  538)  a  new 


imperial  army  landed  at  Ancona,  commanded  by 
Narses,  the  emperor's  chamberlain. 

This  Narses,  though  he  had  not  had  a  soldier's 
education,  possessed  a  great  deal  of  native  military 
genius,  and  we  shall  hear  how,  fourteen  years  later, 
his  bold  and  skilful  generalship  effected  the  ruin  of 
the  Gothic  kingdom,  and  made  his  master  Justinian 
undisputed  sovereign  of  Italy.  But  on  the  present 
occasion  his  coming  wrought  little  but  mischief  to  the 
Roman  cause.  The  truth  seems  to  be  that  Justinian 
was  beginning  to  fear  least  Belisarius's  victorious 
career  might  end  in  his  aspiring  to  the  diadem  of  the 
Western  Empire,  and  that  Narses  was  sent  as  a  sort 
of  spy.  Although  the  emperor's  letter  to  the  officers 
of  the  army  said  expressly  that  Narses  was  not  sent 
to  take  the  command,  but  that  Belisarius  was  to  be 
obeyed  "  in  all  that  tended  to  the  good  of  the  state," 
there  were  many  who  thought  this  assurance  was 
merely  an  empty  form,  and  looked  to  the  chamberlain 
for  their  orders.  Narses  for  his  part  continually  dis- 
approved of  the  general's  plans,  and  refused  to  carry 
them  out.  When  Belisarius  claimed  obedience,  the 
chamberlain  coolly  answered  that  he  considered  that 
the  proposed  course  was  not  "  for  the  good  of  the 
state,"  and  therefore  neither  he  nor  the  officers  were 
bound  to  agree  to  it.  It  is  easy  to  see  how  dangerous 
such  a  state  of  things  would  be,  in  the  presence  of  an 
enemy  immensely  superior  in  numbers. 

Belisarius,  however,  did  not  know  the  temper  in 
which  Narses  had  come,  and  he  advanced  with  all  his 
army  to  meet  him,  congratulating  himself  on  so  large 
an  addition  to  his  forces.     The  two  leaders  met  at 


Firmium,  a  town  near  the  Adriatic  shore,  a  day's 
march  south  of  Ancona,  and  a  great  council  of  war  was 
held  to  decide  on  the  plan  of  operations  to  be  adopted. 
The  question  debated  was*  whether  the  first  step 
should  be  to  relieve  the  garrison  of  Rimini,  or  to 
make  an  attack  on  the  fortress  of  Auximum,  which 
was  held  by  four  thousand  Goths  commanded  by 

The  general  feeling  was  that  it  would  be  highly 
dangerous  to  leave  Auximum  in  Gothic  hands.  It 
seemed  likely  that  if  they  did  so,  the  Romans  would 
be  taken  in  the  rear  by  Wisand  while  they  were 
engaged  with  the  great  army  of  Witigis.  "  Let  us 
first  reduce  Auximum,"  urged  several  speakers,  "  and 
then  proceed  to  the  relief  of  Rimini.  If  in  the 
meantime  Rimini  is  taken,  the  fault  will  not  be  ours, 
but  John's,  because  if  he  had  obeyed  orders  he  would 
not  be  there  at  all."  Now  Narses  was  a  great  friend 
of  John,  and  he  pleaded  his  cause  so  eloquently, 
showing  how  the  capture  of  the  two  thousand  and 
their  commander  would  raise  the  courage  of  the  Goths, 
that  Belisarius  decided  to  run  the  risk  of  an  immediate 
march  against  the  besiegers.  He  divided  his  army  into 
three  parts, sending  the  largest  division,  under  Hildiger, 
by  sea,  with  orders  to  anchor  in  front  of  Rimini  at 
the  same  time  that  the  second  division,  under  Martin, 
arrived  by  the  road  along  the  coast.  Belisarius  him- 
self, accompanied  by  Narses,  marched  through  the 
mountains,  passing  Rimini  at  the  distance  of  a  two  days* 
journey,  so  that  he  could  bear  down  upon  the  besiegers 
from  the  north.  His  object  was  to  frighten  the  Goths 
by  the  sight  of  an  enemy  approaching   them   from 


three  sides  at  once.  In  this  he  was  successful.  A 
Gothic  foraging  party,  surprised  by  the  troops  of 
Behsarius,  fled  to  the  camp  with  the  news  that  an 
enormous  army  was  advancing  from  the  north  ;  the 
same  night  the  camp-fires  of  Martin's  division  were 
descried  eight  miles  away  to  the  south ;  and  the 
rising  sun  shone  on  the  sails  of  a  Roman  fleet  in  the 

In  a  few  hours  the  whole  army  of  the  Goths  was 
in  headlong  flight  towards  Ravenna,  leaving  in  the 
camp  the  sick  and  wounded,  and  not  a  little  of  their 
property,  to  become  the  plunder  of  the  soldiers  of 
Hildiger.  About  noon  Belisarius  arrived,  and  when 
he  saw  the  pale  and  wasted  forms  of  John  and  his 
companions,  he  told  John  that  he  ought  to  be  very 
thankful  to  Hildiger.  "  Not  to  Hildiger,"  John 
replied  gloomily,  "  but  to  Narses."  Belisarius  under- 
stood what  his  answer  meant,  and  he  knew  that  he 
had  made  a  life-long  enemy. 

Thwarted  as  he  continually  was  by  Narses  and 
John,  Belisarius  succeeding  in  capturing  the  strong 
fortresses  of  Urbinum  and  Urbs  Vetus  (Orvieto). 
But  the  dissensions  between  the  generals  caused  the 
loss  of  Milan.  Belisarius  had  sent  a  large  body  of 
troops,  under  Martin  and  an  officer  of  Gothic  birth 
named  Wilihari,  to  the  rescue  of  the  beleaguered  city, 
but  the  officers  remained  idle  for  months  encamped 
on  the  south  bank  of  the  Po,  and  at  length  wrote 
to  Belisarius  asking  for  aid,  as  they  dared  not  cross 
the  river,  being  so  enormously  outnumbered  by  the 
Goths  and  Burgunds,  and  Belisarius  wrote  ordering 
John   and   Justin  to  march  for   the    deliverance    of 



Milan,  but  they  refused  to  obey  any  orders  but  those 
of  Narses.  At  last — early  in  the  year  539 — he  was 
constrained  to  humble  himself  to  entreat  Narses  to 
give  the  necessary  commands.  The  chamberlain  con- 
sented ;  but  it  was  too  late.  Before  the  order  could 
be  executed  Milan  had  fallen. 

When  the  city  was  suffering  the  direst  extremity 
of  famine,  the  Gothic  chief  called  upon  the  garrison 
to  surrender,  promising  that  if  they  did  so  their  lives 
should  be  spared.  The  Roman  commander,  Mun- 
dila  (himself,  like  so  many  other  "  Roman  "  officers 
of  the  time,  a  Goth  by  birth)  insisted  that  the  be- 
siegers should  pledge  themselves  to  spare  the  lives  of 
the  citizens  as  well.  But  the  Goths,  according  to  the 
orders  given  to  them  by  their  king,  were  bent  on  hav- 
ing a  terrible  revenge  upon  the  Milanese  for  their 
betrayal,  and  refused  the  demand.  Then  the  brave 
Mundila,  addressing  the  remnant  of  his  thousand 
men,  called  upon  them  to  prefer  a  glorious  death  to  a 
dishonoured  life,  and  to  follow  him  in  a  desperate 
charge  upon  the  enemy.  But  the  soldiers  did  not 
share  his  heroic  courage.  They  accepted  the  offered 
terms,  and  saved  their  own  lives,  leaving  the  hapless 
citizens  to  their  fate. 

The  Goths  used  their  victory  like  the  worst  of 
savages.  All  the  men  in  the  city  were  killed  (three 
hundred  thousand,  we  are  told,^  but  the  number 
seems  incredible)  ;  the  women  were  given  as  slaves 
to  the  Burgunds,  and  Milan  was  levelled  with  the 
ground.      The   surrounding    cities,   fearing  a  similar 

^  Perhaps  we  should  read  forty  thousand  ;  the  mistake  would  be  an 
easy  one  in  Greek  numerals. 


fate,  hastened  to  offer  their  submission,  and  without 
any  further  bloodshed  the  Goths  were  once  more 
masters  of  the  province  of  Liguria. 

The  Roman  generals,  Martin  and  Wilihari,  who 
had  allowed  Milan  to  perish  before  their  eyes  without 
striking  a  blow  for  its  defence,  returned  to  Rome. 
Belisarius  had  set  out  with  all  his  army  towards  the 
Adriatic  coast,  intending  to  lay  siege  to  Auximum, 
and  on  the  journey  heard  the  grievous  news  of  Milan. 
In  bitterness  of  heart  he  wrote  to  Justinian,  telling 
him  the  whole  story  of  what  had  happened,  and 
doubtless  asking  for  the  punishment  of  those  whose 
fault  had  caused  the  disaster.  The  emperor,  how- 
ever, contented  himself  with  ordering  Narses  to 
return  at  once  to  Constantinople,  and  formally  ap- 
pointing Belisarius  to  the  supreme  command  of  the 
army  of  Italy.  Belisarius  seems  to  have  thought 
Wilihari  more  to  blame  than  his  colleague,  and  we 
read  that  he  never  permitted  him  to  see  his  face 

The  dreary  story  of  the  remainder  of  the  year  539 
need  not  here  be  told  in  detail.  From  May  to 
December  Belisarius  was  besieging  Auximum,  near 
the  Adriatic,  and  his  lieutenants  were  besieging 
Faesulae,  close  to  Florence.  The  brave  garrison  of 
Auximum  suffered  cruel  hardships,  but  were  en- 
couraged by  continual  promises  of  immediate  help 
from  Ravenna.  The  help  never  came  ;  Witigis  could 
not  make  up  his  mind  to  exchange  the  safety  of  his 
fortress  for  the  risks  of  a  conflict  in  the  open  field. 
At  last,  when  Faesulae  had  fallen,  and  the  army  which 
had  captured  it  came  with  their  prisoners  to  the  camp 



of  Belisarius,  the  resolution  of  the  famished  defenders 
of  Auximum   broke   down.      They   not  only  surren 
dered  the  city,  but  they  were  so  hopeless  of  Gothic  - 
freedom  under  a  king  like  Witigis  that  they  actually  I 
took    service   in    the    Roman    ranks.      And    so    four 
thousand  valiant  soldiers  passed  over  from  the  side 
of  Witigis  to  that  of  the  emperor. 

While  these  two  sieges  were  going  on,  King  Theude- 
bert  of  the  Franks,  with  a  hundred  thousand  men, 
crossed  the  Alps  into  North  Italy.  The  Goths,  thinking 
he  came  to  help  them,  made  no  preparations  for  de- 
fence, and  fled  in  great  confusion  when  their  supposed 
friends  suddenly  made  a  fierce  attack  on  their  camp. 
Upon  this  the  Romans  naturally  expected  that  the 
Franks  would  take  't/ieir  side,  but  they  fell  into  the 
same  trap  as  their  enemies  had  done.  King  Theude- 
bert's  object  was  merely  to  enrich  himself  by  robbery. 
After  impartially  plundering  both  camps  and  ravag- 
ing the  country,  he  went  back  to  his  kingdom  laden 
with  booty  ;  but  he  had  lost  so  many  men  by  disease 
that  he  had  little  reason  to  congratulate  himself  on 
the  results  of  his  treacherous  conduct. 

What  miseries  the  Italian  country  people  suffered 
during  this  terrible  year  will  never  be  fully  known. 
Fifty  thousand  peasants  died  of  famine  in  the  pro- 
vince of  Picenum  alone.  The  historian  Procopius 
describes  in  vivid  language  the  ghastly  scenes  of 
which  he  was  an  eye-witness.  The  victims  of  hunger, 
he  tells  us,  first  grew  deadly  pale,  then  livid,  and 
finally  black,  "  like  the  charred  remains  of  torches." 
Their  eyes  had  the  wild  glare  of  insanity.  It  was 
rumoured   that  some  had  yielded  to  the  temptation 



to  save  their  own  lives  by  feeding  on  human  flesh. 
Thousands  were  seen  lying  dead  on  the  ground,  their 
hands  still  clutching  the  grass  which  they  had  been 
trying  to  pull  up  for  food.  The  bodies  lay  unburied, 
but  the  birds  disdained  to  touch  them,  for  there  was 
no  flesh  left  upon  the  bones. 

It  is  a  horrible  picture  ;  but  it  helps  us  to  under- 
stand in  some  degree  what  is  really  meant  by  the 
"  famines  "  that  are  so  often  mentioned  in  passing  as 
incidents  in  the  wars  of  the  centuries  to  which  our 
story  relates. 




Belisarius  was  now  master  of  the  whole  of  Italy, 
except  Ravenna  itself  and  the  northern  provinces 
which  form  what  is  now  called  Lombardy.  As  soon 
as  the  siege  of  Auximum  was  ended,  he  marched 
with  all  his  army  to  blockade  the  fortress  capital  in 
which  King  Witigis  had  taken  refuge. 

That  Ravenna  would  fall  sooner  or  later  was 
certain.  No  doubt  the  great  army  of  Goths  who 
still  remained  within  the  walls  might,  if  they  had 
had  an  efficient  general,  have  sallied  forth  and  over- 
whelmed the  besiegers  with  their  superior  numbers. 
But  with  Witigis  for  their  commander  nothing  of  the 
sort  was  to  be  feared  ;  and  Belisarius  had  captured 
the  supplies  of  corn  which  were  being  brought  to  the 
city  down  the  Po,  while  the  Roman  war-ships  in  the 
Adriatic  prevented  any  provisions  from  being  im- 
ported by  sea.  And  just  at  this  time  the  storehouses 
of  corn  in  Ravenna  were  consumed  by  fire,  through 
the  treachery,  it  was  said,  of  Queen  Mataswintha. 
The  king's  nephew,  Uraias,  the  captor  of  Milan,  had 
set  out  with  four  thousand  men  to  attack  the  be- 
siegers, but   nearly   all   his   soldiers   deserted  to  the 


enemy,  and    he   was  obliged   to  go  back   again  into 
Liguria,  and  to  leave  Ravenna  to  its  fate. 

It   seemed,   therefore,   that   the   game    was   nearly 
ended.     But  the  calculations  of  Belisarius  were  dis- 
turbed by  the  arrival  of  ambassadors  from  Justinian, 
empowered  to  offer  the  Goths  liberal  terms  of  peace. 
Witigis  was  to  remain  king  of  the  country  north  of 
the  Po,  and  to  retain  half  the  royal  treasure.     The 
Goths,  as   well   they  might  be,  were  delighted  with 
the  proposal,  but   they   suspected   that    it   might    be 
only  a  trap,  and,  therefore,  they  refused  to  agree  to 
it  unless  Belisarius  would  assure  them  in  writing  that 
he   considered   himself  bound   by  the   treaty.      Beli- 
sarius, however,  had  set  his  heart  on  leading  Witigis, 
as  he  had  before  led  thq  Vandal  king,  a  prisoner  to 
Constantinople,  and  he  was  greatly  mortified  that  he 
was   to  be  robbed  of  his  prize  at  the  very  moment 
when   it  was   ready  to  fall  into  his   hands.      If  the 
emperor  chose  to  make  peace  on  the  proposed  con- 
ditions, he  could  not  prevent  him  from  doing  so,  but 
at   least   he   would   be  no  party  to   the  transaction. 
However,  as  an  obstinate  resistance  on  his  part  might 
seem  disloyal  to  his  master,  he  called  a  council  of  his 
officers,  and  asked  their  opinion.     They  unanimously 
declared  their  conviction   that  there   was  no  use   in 
carrying  on  the  war  further,  and  that  it  was  best  to 
make  peace  on  the  emperor's  terms.     Belisarius  made 
them  all  sign  a  document  expressing  this  conclusion, 
so  that  it  might  afterwards  be  seen  that  the  responsi- 
bility for  what  he  considered  a  foolish  act  did  not 
rest  with  himself. 

But  in  the  meantime  the  Goths  had  been  holding 


a  council,  and  had  come  to  a  very  strange  decision. 
If  Belisarius  would  have  signed  the  treaty  they  could 
have  trusted  him,  but  in  the  honesty  of  Justinian 
they  had  no  faith;  and  they  feared  that  if  Ravenna 
were  surrendered  the  ernperor  would  order  them  to 
be  carried  away  to  Constantinople  or  to  Asia  Minor. 
They  therefore  determined  to  offer  the  kingdom  of 
Italy  to  Belisarius  himself  The  messengers  who 
conveyed  this  proposal  to  the  imperial  general  took 
with  them  a  letter  from  Witigis,  who  was  now  tired 
of  a  kingship  which  he  was  unable  to  make  a  reality, 
and  who  entreated  his  conqueror  to  yield  to  the 
desire  of  the  Goths. 

Perhaps  Belisarius  may  have  entertained  some 
thoughts  of  availing  himself  of  the  opportunity  of 
making  himself  sovereign  of  the  West.  But  his  oath 
of  allegiance  to  Justinian  stood  in  the  way,  and  the 
enterprise  would  besides  have  been  full  of  perils. 
However,  he  saw  that  to  pretend  to  agree  to  the 
Gothic  proposal  would  be  a  means  of  obtaining  the 
surrender  of  Ravenna.  He  therefore  called  a  council 
of  his  officers,  together  with  the  emperor's  ambassa- 
dors, and  informed  them  that  he  had  a  plan  by  which 
he  was  confident  of  being  able  to  save  the  whole  of 
Italy  for  the  empire,  and  to  carry  off  Witigis  and 
the  Gothic  nobles,  with  all  their  treasure,  to  Con- 
stantinople. "  Supposing,"  he  said,  "  that  this  plan 
should  be  successful,  will  you  consider  me  justified  in 
setting  aside  the  emperor's  instructions  ?  "  They  all 
thought  that  such  an  achievement  would  be  worthy 
of  the  highest  praise.  Belisarius  then  sent  word  to 
the  Goths  that  he  accepted  their  offer  ;  and  ambas- 


sadors  were  sent  from  Ravenna  to  the  Roman  camp 
with  the  request  that  he  would  swear  that  the  garrison 
and  citizens  should  suffer  no  injury,  and  that  he 
would  reign  impartially  over  the  Goths  and  the 

Belisarius  readily  took  the  required  oath,  so  far  as 
it  related  to  Ravenna,  but  as  to  his  assumption  of  the 
kingship  he  said  that  he  must  first  confer  personally 
with  Witigis  and  the  nobles.  The  ambassadors  made 
no  difficulty  in  that  point,  for  they  thought  it  impos- 
sible that  he  could  mean  to  draw  back  from  an 
undertaking  so  gratifying  to  his  own  ambition. 

So  Belisarius,  accompanied  by  the  Gothic  envoys, 
entered  Ravenna  with  his  army  ;  and  at  the  same 
time  the  Roman  fleet,  laden  with  provisions,  landed 
at  the  port  of  Classis,  and  food  was  distributed  to  the 
hungry  people.  The  Romans  were  heartily  welcomed 
by  the  inhabitants  of  the  city  ;  but  when  the  Gothic 
women  saw  the  small-statured,  mean-looking  men 
(Huns,  perhaps,  for  the  most  part)  who  followed 
Belisarius,  they  assailed  their  countrymen  with  shouts 
of  derision,  and  even  spat  in  their  faces,  for  allowing 
themselves  to  be  beaten  by  such  foes.  Belisarius 
faithfully  kept  his  promise  to  allow  no  plundering  of 
private  property,  but  he  took  possession  of  the  trea- 
sure stored  up  in  the  palace,  and  Witigis  and  some  of 
his  chief  nobles  were  kept  in  honourable  captivity  until 
they  could  be  conveyed  to  Constantinople.  The 
Goths  whose  homes  were  south  of  the  Po  were  per- 
mitted to  return  to  their  farms. 

For  some  time  Belisarius  allowed  it  to  be  believed 
that  he  was  going  to  accept  the  purple.     By  and  by. 

272         THE   GOTHS    LOSE   RAVENNA, 

however,  he  received  from  the  emperor  the  command 
to  return  at  once  to  Constantinople.     The  motive  for 
this  order  was  partly  that  Justinian   had   heard  that 
the  conduct  of  his  general  looked  as  if  he  were  dally- 
ing with  the  thought  of  usurping  the  crown  of  Italy, 
and  partly  that  the  king  of  Persia  had  declared  his 
intention  of  invading  the  empire.     The  Goths  heard 
that    Belisarius   had   been    recalled,  but   took   it   for 
granted    that    he    would     disregard    the    summons. 
When,  however,   they   found    that   he   was   actually 
making   preparations    for   departure,   they  perceived 
that  they  had  been  imposed   upon.     Their  attention 
then  turned  to  the  two  Gothic  generals  who  still  held 
out  in  the  north — Uraias  the  nephew  of  Witigis,  and 
Hildibad.     First,  a  deputation  of  Gothic  nobles  waited 
on   Uraias  at  Pavia  urging  him  to  accept  the  crown. 
He  refused  the  offer,  saying  that  his  regard  for  his 
uncle  forbad  him  to   occupy  the   throne   during   his 
uncle's  lifetime,  and,  besides,  that  he  thought  that  his 
relationship   to   one   who   had   been    so   unfortunate 
a  commander  would  prevent  him  from  winning  the 
confidence   of  the   army.      He   recommended   them, 
however,  to  choose  Hildibad,  who  was  then  in  com- 
mand at  Verona,  and  who  was  a  nephew  of  Theudis, 
king  of  the  Visigoths. 

Hildibad  accordingly  was  sent  for  to  Pavia,  and  was 
there  invested  with  the  purple  robe  and  hailed  as 
king.  But  before  many  days  had  passed  away  he 
began  to  doubt  whether  the  Goths  had  done  wisely  in 
choosing  him  as  king,  and  whether  he  himself  had 
been  wise  in  accepting  their  choice.  Calling  together 
a  great   assembly  of  the  people,  he  urged  them    to 


make  one  last  effort  to  persuade  Belisarius  to  assume 
the  diadem. 

Accordingly,  ambassadors  were  sent  to  Ravenna  to 
try  to  induce  Belisarius  to  change  his  mind.  They 
reproached  him  in  bitter,  but  not  undeserved,  terms 
with  his  breach  of  faith  :  they  taunted  him  with  want 
of  spirit  in  "choosing  to  be  a  slave  when  he  might 
be  a  king  ;  "  but  it  was  all  to  no  purpose.  He  replied 
that  he  was  resolved  never  to  assume  the  title  of  king 
or  emperor  so  long  as  Justinian  lived. 

So  Hildibad  was  confirmed  in  his  new  dignity,  and 
Belisarius  set  out  to  present  himself,  with  his  Gothic 
prisoners  and  the  spoils  of  the  palace  of  Ravenna, 
before  his  imperial  master.  It  was  in  June,  540,  that 
he  arrived  at  Constantinople — ^just  after  the  empire 
had  suffered  a  humiliating  blow  in  the  capture  of 
Antioch  by  the  Persian  king.  All  the  more  welcome 
to  Justinian  and  his  subjects  were  the  evidences  of  the 
Italian  victories  ;  but  his  jealousy  of  Belisarius  was 
not  set  at  rest,  and  he  made  no  movement  to  offer  the 
conqueror  the  honours  of  a  Roman  triumph.  The 
enthusiasm  of  the  people,  however,  made  amends  for 
the  emperor's  neglect.  Whenever  Belisarius  appeared 
in  public  the  streets  were  thronged  with  citizens  eager 
to  gaze  upon  their  favourite  hero,  and  to  testify  their 
admiration  of  him  by  shouts  of  applause. 

Belisarius  was  now  only  thirty-five  years  of  age,  but 
he  had  reached  the  highest  point  of  his  fame.  His 
secretary,  Procopius,  has  chosen  this  moment  to  intro- 
duce his  description  of  the  great  general's  person  and 
character.  He  tells  us  that  Belisarius  was  tall  and  of 
well-proportioned   frame,  and    in  countenance  hand- 

274  "^^^   GOTHS   LOSE  RAVENNA. 

some  beyond  all  men.  He  was  "  as  perfectly  acces 
sible  and  as  unassuming  in  manner  as  if  he  had  been 
some  very  poor  and  undistinguished  man."  His 
soldiers  loved  him  for  his  sympathy  in  all  their 
troubles,  and  his  unequalled  generosity  in  rewarding 
their  deeds  of  bravery.  And  yet  his  discipline  was 
very  rigorous  ;  he  never  tolerated  any  outrages  upon 
the  country  people,  nor  any  pillage  or  wanton  destruc- 
tion of  crops,  and  the  provisions  required  by  his  army 
were  always  paid  for  at  liberal  prices.  His  private 
life  was  stainlessly  pure,  and  no  one  ever  saw  him 
excited  by  wine.  His  presence  of  mind  was  wonder- 
ful ;  no  emergency  ever  took  him  by  surprise.  In 
danger  he  was  cheerful  and  self-possessed  :  he  was  the 
bravest  of  the  brave,  yet  he  never  neglected  any  need- 
ful precaution.  As  he  was  nev^er  cast  down  by 
adversity,  so  he  was  never  inflated  by  success,  nor 
tempted  to  relax  even  for  a  moment  the  stern  sim- 
plicity of  his  manner  of  life. 

Such  is  the  portrait  which  is  drawn  of  this  great  man 
by  one  who  had  lived  in  close  intimacy  with  him.  It 
is  a  picture  which  leaves  out  all  the  shadows,  and  the 
character  of  Belisarius  was  not  without  grave  faults. 
But  in  what  Procopius  says  of  his  excellencies  there 
seems  to  be  very  little  exaggeration.  Pity  that  so 
noble  a  man  should  have  laboured  for  so  unworthy  an 
end  as  that  of  crushing  a  heroic  nation  out  of  exis- 
tence, and  subjecting  Italy  to  the  rapacious  mis- 
government  of  the  Eastern  Empire. 

But  though  the  task  was  unworthy  of  Belisarius,  the 
success  which  he  had  thus  far  attained  is  a  proof  of 
his  wonderful  genius.     If  he  had  been  allowed  to  re- 





turn  to  Italy  at  once,  a  few  more  months  would  prob- 
ably have  seen  the  end  of  the  struggle.  Justinian, 
however,  thought  that  the  work  which  had  been 
carried  so  far  might  safely  be  left  to  inferior  hands  to 
finish.  It  was  a  great  mistake,  the  result  of  which, 
as  we  shall  see,  was  that  the  struggle  lasted  on  for 
twelve  more  years.  The  Goths  were  conquered  at 
last,  but  at  an  immense  cost  of  treasure  and  of  human 
lives  that  might  all  have  been  spared  had  Justinian 
been  wise  in  time. 

Belisarius's  two  royal  prisoners  had  no  reason  to 
complain  of  their  treatment.  KingWitigis  was  made 
a  "Patrician  ;"  he  lived  in  inglorious  luxury  at  Con- 
stantinople for  two  more  years,  and  then  died,  un- 
lamented  by  his  young  widow — still  only  about 
twenty-two — who  immediately  became  the  wife  of 
the  emperor's  nephew  Germanus. 




The  emperor  thought  that  the  conquest  of  Italy  was 
now  as  good  as  complete,  and  he  at  once  proceeded 
to  turn  his  new  acquisition  to  practical  account.  Jus- 
tinian's notion  of  government  was  the  extortion  of 
money,  to  be  spent  in  keeping  up  the  splendour  of  his 
court,  and  in  building  magnificent  churches,  palaces, 
and  fortresses  all  over  the  empire.  Although  he 
thought  himself  a  great  lover  of  justice,  and  took 
immense  pains  in  reducing  the  Roman  laws  to  a 
scientific  system,  he  did  very  little  to  ensure  the  laws 
being  justly  administered  in  his  dominions.  Whether 
his  subjects  were  prosperous  or  not  was  a  secondary 
matter ;  the  one  great  thing  was  that  they  should 
pay  their  taxes  regularly.  His  revenue  officers 
were  allowed  to  oppress  the  people  as  they  liked,  and 
to  enrich  themselves  with  ill-gotten  gains,  if  only  they 
did  not  fail  to  send  plenty  of  money  to  Constantinople. 
His  policy  was  as  shortsighted  and  foolish  as  it  was 
wicked  ;  a  policy  of  "  killing  the  goose  that  laid 
the  golden  eggs."  As  Theoderic  had  so  well  seen, 
the  only  lasting  way  to  enrich  the  treasury  of  the 
state  is  to  labour  for  the  prosperity  of  the  subjects. 
Justinian  can  hardly  have  been  wholly  blind  to  this 


truth,  but  his  thqught  seems  to  have  been  that  ex- 
pressed in  the  famous  words, "  After  me  the  deluge." 
While  he  lived  the  empire  was  outwardly  brilliant  and 
glorious  :  it  was  his  successors  that  had  to  suffer  the 
penalty  which  his  recklessness  had  deserved. 

The  first  thing  that  Justinian  did  after  Belisarius's 
return  was  to  send  to  Ravenna  the  most  energetic  and 
unscrupulous  of  his  revenue  officers,  a  certain  Alex- 
ander, whom  the  people  at  Constantinople  had  spite- 
fully nicknamed  "  Scissors,"  because,  they  said,  he 
could  clip  a  gold  coin  and  leave  it  as  round  as  it  was 
before.  This  man  seems  to  have  been  entrusted  with 
almost  absolute  authority  over  the  government  of 
Italy,  and  he  used  his  power  to  oppress  all  classes 
alike — not  only  the  native  Italians  and  the  Goths  who 
had  submitted  to  the  empire,  but  even  the  soldiers, 
whom  he  cheated  out  of  their  pay  and  punished  by 
heavy  fines  for  trifling  or  imaginary  offences. 

It  is  easy  to  guess  what  happened.  The  Goths 
who  had  accepted  Roman  rule  were  driven  to  revolt, 
and  betook  themselves  to  the  camp  of  their  native 
king.  The  Roman  soldiers  were  unwilling  to  fight, 
and  many  of  them  deserted  to  the  enemy.  In  a  few 
months  the  little  band  under  Hildibad  had  become  a 
powerful  army. 

Justinian  had  appointed  no  commander-in-chief  in 
the  place  of  Belisarius  ;  the  generals  in  Italy  were  all 
equal  in  authority.  They  were  too  jealous  of  one 
another,  and  too  intent  on  enriching  themselves  by 
the  plunder  of  the  people,  to  attempt  a'ny  united 
movement  against  the  Goths.  One  of  them,  how- 
ever, who  happened  to  be  in   Venetia  with  a  large 


portion  of  the  army,  ventured  to  make  an  attack  on 
Hildibad  near  Treviso,  but  was  defeated  and  lost 
nearly  all  his  men. 

The  Goths  were  greatly  elated  by  this  victory,  and 
for  a  time  they  were  full  of  enthusiastic  devotion  to 
their  king.  But  Hildibad  forfeited  the  affection  of 
his  people  by  causing  the  assassination  of  Uraias,  the 
very  man  to  whom  he  owed  his  kingdom.  He  did 
not  deny  the  deed,  but  pretended  that  he  had  detected 
Uraias  in  a  plot  to  betray  the  nation  to  the  Romans. 
Every  one  knew,  however,  that  the  real  motive  of  the 
crime  was  that  Hildibad's  queen  had  been  insulted  by 
the  wife  of  Uraias.  The  Goths  did  not  attempt  to 
depose  Hildibad,  because  they  felt  that  his  bravery 
and  ability  made  him  indispensable  ;  but  their  loyalty 
to  him  had  received  a  fatal  shock,  and  they  no  longer 
cared  to  obey  him.  One  day,  as  the  king  reclined  at 
the  dinner-table,  in  the  presence  of  all  his  great 
nobles,  a  Gepid  soldier,  who  had  a  private  wrong  to 
avenge,  came  behind  him  and  smote  off  his  head  with 
his  broadsword.  Bitterly  as  the  Goths  had  con- 
demned Hildibad's  shameful  deed,  they  knew  his 
value  as  a  leader,  and  his  death  caused  them  for  a 
while  to  lose  all  heart  and  hope. 

During  this  time  of  discouragement,  the  Rugians, 
one  of  the  smaller  Gothic  peoples,  who  had  joined 
themselves  to  the  Ostrogoths  without  mixing  with 
them,  took  advantage  of  the  opportunity  to  set  up 
one  of  their  own  nobles,  named  Eraric,  as  "  King  of 
the  Goths'."  The  Ostrogoths  did  not  like  this,  but 
they  were  so  much  in  need  of  a  leader  that  they 
were  content  to  obey  even  the  Rugian,  if  only  he  had 


shown  himself  a  capable  man.  But  Eraric  simply 
remained  inactive  ;  and  it  was  found  out  afterwards 
that  he  had  been  trying  to  make  a  bargain  with 
Justinian  for  the  betrayal  of  Italy. 

The  Gothic  garrison  of  Treviso  was  commanded  by 
a  nephew  of  Hildibad,  a  young  man  of  about  twenty- 
five,  whose  name  was  Totila.  After  Eraric  had  been 
on  the  throne  three  or  four  months,  without  making 
any  movement  against  the  Romans,  the  Goths  be- 
came impatient,  and  sent  a  deputation  to  offer  the 
crown  to  Totila.  He  informed  the  delegates  (so,  at 
least,  we  are  told)  that  he  had  entered  into  an  agree- 
ment with  the  imperial  general  Constantian,  to  sur- 
render the  city  and  the  army  on  a  certain  day.  "But," 
he  added,  "  if  Eraric  is  put  to  death  before  the  date 
fixed  for  the  surrender,  I  am  willing  to  accept  the 
kingdom."  Whether  this  story  be  true  or  not,  it  is 
certain  that  Eraric  was  soon  afterwards  assassinated, 
and  Totila  became  king. 

If  Totila  did  indeed  obtain  his  throne  by  breaking 
his  pledged  word  and  by  instigating  an  assassination, 
the  beginning  of  his  reign  contrasts  strangely  with 
his  after  history.  His  character  was  marked  by  a 
chivalrous  sense  of  honour,  and  a  magnanimity  towards 
his  enemies  which,  in  that  age,  were  rare  indeed. 
One  or  two  of  his  recorded  actions,  indeed,  seem  un- 
worthy of  the  man's  noble  nature ;  but  we  must 
remember  that  his  life  has  been  written  by  no  friend 
or  countryman,  but  by  a  foreigner  and  an  enemy,  who 
nevertheless  could  not  refrain  from  expressing  with 
emphasis  the  admiration  he  felt  for  the  uprightness 
and  the  humanity  of  this  "  barbarian." 


It  should  be  mentioned  here  that  Totila  seems  on 
becoming  king  to  have  changed  his  name  to  Baduila. 
Or  possibly  the  latter  may  have  been  his  real  name, 
and  Totila  only  a  nickname.  At  any  rate  he  was 
known  to  his  countryman  by  both  names,  though 
Baduila  is  the  only  one  which  appears  on  his  coins. 
However,  in  history  he  is  always  called  Totila  ;  the 
other  name  would  have  been  unknown  to  us  but  for 
the  coins  and  a  solitary  mention  in  Jordanes.^ 

When  Justinian  heard  how  the  imperial  cause  in 
Italy  was  being  ruined  through  the  inaction  of  the 
generals,  he  wrote  to  them  in  such  severe  terms  that 
they  felt  something  must  be  done.  So  they  all 
gathered  together  (eleven  there  seem  to  have  been) 
at  Ravenna,  and  devised  plans  for  making  a  com- 
bined movement  against  the  Goths.  They  deter- 
mined to  begin  with  an  attack  on  Verona  ;  but  their 
cowardice  and  blundering  caused  the  scheme  to  fail, 
and  they  marched  southwards  in  all  haste  as  far  as 
Faventia.  Here  they  were  overtaken  by  Totila,  and 
a  battle  took  place.  Although  the  Goths  had  only 
five  thousand  men,  while  the  Romans  had  twelve 
thousand,  Totila  was  victorious  ;  the  imperial  army 
was  completely  dispersed,  with  a  great  loss  both 
in  slain  and  in  prisoners.  Another  battle  in  the 
valley  of  Mucella  (Mugello)  had  a  similar  end- 
ing, and  Totila  led  his  army  into  the  south, 
capturing  one  city  after  another,  and  making  the 
farmers  pay  into  his  treasury  both  the  rents  due 
to  their  landlords  and  the  taxes  that  were  due  to  the 

*  Perhaps  the  truth  may  be  that  his  original  name  was  Totabadws^ 
and  that  Totila  and  Baduila  are  diminutives  of  this  (see  Appendix) . 


emperor.  In  other  respects,  however,  he  treated  the 
people  with  so  much  kindness  that  he  won  a  great 
deal  of  goodwill  from  those  who  had  suffered  from 
the  lawless  behaviour  of  the  Roman  armies.  At  last, 
in  the  summer  of  542,  he  encamped  before  Naples, 
which  a  certain  Conon  was  holding  for  the  emperor, 
with  a  garrison  of  one  thousand  men. 

The  emperor's  army  in  Italy  was  in  a  state  of 
general  mutiny  on  account  of  pay  being  in  arrear,  so 
that  the  generals  could  hardly  have  done  anything 
for  the  relief  of  Naples  even  if  they  had  wished.  But 
apparently  they  were  only  too  glad  of  the  excuse  for 
remaining  inactive  in  the  fortified  cities.  Justinian, 
however,  sent  a  considerable  land  and  sea  force  from 
Constantinople,  but  its  commanders  were  no  match 
for  the  genius  of  Totila.  The  fleet  was  defeated,  and 
the  most  important  of  the  leaders  of  the  expedition, 
Demetrius,  was  paraded  in  front  of  the  walls  with  a 
halter  round  his  neck,  and  made  to  harangue  the 
garrison  and  the  citizens,  in  order  to  persuade  them 
to  surrender.  The  Gothic  king  himself  also  made  a 
speech  to  the  besieged,  promising  that  if  they  would 
yield  neither  soldier  nor  citizen  should  be  any  the 
worse  for  their  submission. 

The  temptation  was  strong,  for  the  defenders  were 
hard  pressed  by  famine  and  disease  ;  but  the  garrison 
was  unwilling  to  seem  false  to  their  sovereign,  and 
begged  that  thirty  days'  truce  might  be  allowed  them. 
If  no  help  came  from  the  emperor  within  that  time, 
they  promised  to  surrender.  Totila  astonished  the 
messengers  by  his  reply.  "  By  all  means,"  he  said  ; 
"  I  grant  you   t/tree  months'  delay,  if  you   choose  to 


take  it."  And  he  undertook  to  make  no  attempt  to 
storm  the 'city  during  that  time.  He  knew  that  the 
defenders  would  find  it  hard  to  struggle  with  the 
famine  for  even  one  month  longer.  Totila's  calm 
confidence  made  them  feel  that  the  hope  of  succour 
was  vain  indeed  ;  and  a  few  days  afterwards  the  gates 
were  opened. 

As  soon  as  Totila  entered  the  city,  he  saw  from  the 
appearance  of  the  inhabitants  that  they  had  suffered 
terribly  from  famine.  He  had  had,  like  Procopius, 
the  opportunity  of  observing  the  effects  of  hunger  on 
the  human  frame,  and  he  knew  that  if  those  who  were 
enfeebled  by  long  privation  were  at  once  freely  sup- 
plied with  food  they  were  likely  to  be  killed  by  plenty. 
With  a  thoughtful  kindness  which,  as  Procopius  says, 
"  could  neither  have  been  expected  from  an  enemy 
nor  from  a  barbarian,"  he  ordered  that  every  person 
in  the  city  should  receive  a  daily  ration  of  food,  at 
first  very  small,  but  gradually  increased  until  the 
danger  had  ceased  to  exist.  Then,  and  not  before, 
he  allowed  the  city  gates  to  be  thrown  open,  and 
proclaimed  that  the  inhabitants  were  free  to  go  or 
to  remain  as  they  chose. 

Conon  and  most  of  his  soldiers  were  placed  on 
board  ships,  and  informed  that  they  were  at  liberty  to 
sail  to  any  port  they  preferred.  They  were  ashamed 
to  go  to  Constantinople,  and  tried  to  make  for  Rome. 
The  wind,  however,  was  contrary,  and  they  were 
obliged  to  remain  at  Naples.  Naturally  they  felt 
very  uneasy,  for  they  thought  that  after  Totila  had 
given  them  one  fair  chance  of  escape,  he  would  now 
consider  himself  entitled  to  treat  them  as  prisoners. 


But  the  "  barbarian's "  generosity  again  surpassed 
expectation.  Sending  for  Conon,  he  assured  him 
that  he  and  his  companions  might  consider  them- 
selves as  among  friends  ;  that  until  it  was  possible 
for  them  to  sail  the  Gothic  markets  were  open  to 
them,  and  that  he  would  do  everything  he  could  to 
ensure  their  comfort.  As,  however,  the  wind  con- 
tinued unfavourable,  Totila  at  length  recommended 
them  to  make  the  journey  by  land,  and  actually  pro- 
vided them  with  beasts  of  burden,  money  for  travel- 
ling expenses,  and  a  Gothic  escort.  He  did  all  this, 
though  he  knew  that  Conon  and  his  men  were  going 
to  increase  the  garrison  of  the  city  to  which  it  was 
his  intention  shortly  to  lay  siege.  Certainly  he  had 
given  his  kingly  word  that  the  soldiers  should  be 
allowed  to  march  away  "  whither  they  pleased  ; "  but 
it  is  seldom  that  any  conqueror  has  observed  a  capitu- 
lation in  this  splendid  fashion,  either  before  or  since. 
Even  more  rigorously  than  Belisarius  himself, 
Totila  repressed  all  acts  of  outrage  on  the  part  of 
his  army.  No  matter  who  was  the  offender,  the 
penalty  was  death.  One  officer  of  high  rank,  and 
very  popular  among  his  comrades,  had  committed  a 
crime  of  this  kind,  and  had  been  placed  under  arrest. 
The  chiefs  of  the  army  implored  Totila  to  spare  the 
man's  life.  The  king  listened  courteously  and  calmly 
to  what  they  had  to  say,  and  then,  in  grave  and 
earnest  tones  he  expressed  his  conviction  that  only  so 
long  as  the  Goths  kept  themselves  pure  from  injustice 
could  they  expect  the  Divine  blessing  to  rest  on  their 
cause.  He  reminded  them  how  brilliant  had  been 
the  fortunes  of  the  nation  under  the  righteous  rule  of 


Theoderic  ;  how,  under  Theodahad  and  his  succes- 
sors, the  Goths,  forsaking  the  poHcy  of  justice  and 
humanity  to  which  they  owed  their  greatness,  had 
brought  themselves  to  the  lowest  point  of  humilia- 
tion ;  and  how  since  they  had  again  begun  to  act  in 
a  nobler  spirit  their  prosperity  had  returned.  Would 
they,  he  asked,  with  this  experience  before  them, 
insist  on  making  the  nation  an  accomplice  in  this 
man's  guilt  ?  The  Gothic  chiefs  were  unable  to  resist 
this  reasoning,  and  the  criminal  underwent  his  doom. 

"  While  Totila  was  behaving  in  this  manner,  the 
Roman  generals  and  their  soldiers  were  plundering 
the  property  of  those  who  were  subject  to  their  sway, 
and  indulging  without  restraint  in  every  kind  of  inso- 
lence and  excess."  We  are  quoting  Procopius,  who 
points  out  with  indignant  eloquence  the  contrast  be- 
tween the  "  civilized  "  Romans  and  their  "  barbarian  " 
foe.  In  Rome  itself  the  citizens  were  bitterly  regret- 
ting their  change  of  masters.  Totila  knew  of  the 
existence  of  this  feeling,  and  resolved  to  work  upon 
it.  First  he  sent  a  letter  to  the  senate,  charging  them, 
if  they  repented  of  the  crime  and  folly  of  their  treason 
against  the  Goths,  to  earn  their  pardon  by  a  voluntary 
surrender  of  the  city.  It  is  strange  that  the  impe- 
rialist commander  should  have  allowed  such  a  letter 
to  be  delivered  at  all  ;  however,  he  would  not  permit 
the  senate  to  return  any  answer. 

A  few  days  passed,  and  one  morning  it  was  found 
that  placards,  signed  with  Totila's  name,  had  been 
nailed  up  during  the  night  in  all  the  most  frequented 
parts  of  the  city.  They  announced  that  the  Goths 
would  shortly  march  to  the  capture  of  Rome,  and 



contained  a  solemn  declaration  that  no  harm  should 
be  done  to  the  citizens.  The  officers  of  the  imperial 
army  tried  in  vain  to  find  out  who  had  put  up  these 
placards,  but  it  was  suspected  that  it  must  have  been 
done  by  the  Arian  clergy,  who  were  therefore  banished 
from  the  city. 

Soon  afterwards  the  emperor  Justinian  received 
a  letter,  signed  by  all  his  generals  in  Italy,  expressing 
their  opinion  that  the  imperial  cause  in  that  country 
was  hopeless,  and  that,  the  attempt  to  oppose  the 
victorious  progress  of  the  Goths  had  better  be  aban- 
doned. Very  unwillingly  the  emperor  had  to  yield 
to  the  conviction  that  his  Italian  dominions  could  be 
preserved  only  by  the  help  of  the  great  general  who, 
four  years  before,  had  all  but  crushed  the  Gothic 
monarchy,  and  whose  premature  recall  was  now 
proved  to  have  been  a  fatal  mistake.  And  so  Beli- 
sarius  received  orders  to  go  to  Italy  to  retrieve  the 
disasters  which  had  befallen  the  imperial  arms. 





It  was  not  merely  the  old  suspicion  which  made 
Justinian  unwiUing  to  send  Belisarius  to  Italy.     The 
great  general  had  recently  fallen  into  disgrace  with 
his    imperial    master.       In    the    year    542,    Justinian 
had  been  smitten  with  plague,  and  it  was  said  that 
while  he  was  on  what  was  supposed  to  be  his  death- 
bed Belisarius  had  formed  a  plot  for  the  purpose  of 
succeeding  him  on  the  throne,  to  the  exclusion  of  the 
Empress  Theodora.       The  emperor,  however,  recov- 
ered,   and    as    he   believed    the    accusations    against 
Belisarius,  he  deprived  him  of  all  his  honours  and  of 
a  large  part  of  his  property.       He  also  took  away 
from   him  his  famous  "  household "   of  soldiers,  and 
sent    them    away   on    foreign    service.      Afterwards 
Justinian  had  professed  to  forgive  Belisarius,  and  had 
conferred  on  him  the  office  of  "  Count  of  the  Imperial 
Stable."     But  he  still  treated  him  with  haughty  cold- 
ness, and  even  in  making  him  the  offer  of  the  Italian 
command  he  seems  not  to  have  been  able  to  conceal 
the  distrust  which  he  felt.     Belisarius,  however,  was 
tired    of  inaction,  and    eager   to   prove   his   loyalty, 
and  he  accepted  the  appointment  with  gladness.     He 


even  promised,  it  is  said,  that  he  would  himself 
supply  all  the  money  which  the  expedition  might 
cost.  Perhaps  it  was  this  promise  that  overcame  the 
avaricious  emperor's  reluctance  to  avail  himself  of 
the  services  of  the  general  whom  he  distrusted. 

It  was  in  May,  544,  that  Belisarius  went  to  take  the 
command  of  the  Italian  armies.  He  remained  five 
years  in  Italy,  and  when  he  at  length  returned  it 
was  with  the  consciousness  of  failure :  the  Gothic 
power  was  still  unbroken. 

How  was  it  that  the  great  general,  who  a  few  years 
before  had  so  brilliantly,  with  a  mere  handful  of  men, 
wrested  Italy  from  the  grasp  of  the  gigantic  host  of 
Witigis,  was  no  longer  able  to  contend  against  a  foe 
whose  army  was  inferior  in  numbers  to  his  own  ^ 
The  reasons,  no  doubt,  were  many.  It  is  possible 
that  the  troubles  through  which  he  had  passed  had  in 
some  degree  broken  his  spirit  and  dulled  his  brain. 
Something,  too,  may  be  set  down  to  the  fact  that  his 
adversary  now  was  a  resolute  and  skilful  youth,  and 
not  a  feeble  and  purposeless  old  man.  But  there 
were  other  causes  which  were  miore  important  still. 
The  Roman  soldiers  in  Italy  were  thoroughly  de- 
moralized by  the  shameful  oppression  which  they 
had  undergone  at  the  hands  of  Justinian's  governors, 
and  by  the  spectacle  of  the  sloth  and  rapacity  of  their 
own  commanders.  Great  numbers  of  them  had  de- 
serted to  Totila,  in  whose  service  they  might  at  least 
be  sure  of  their  pay.  Those  who  remained  were 
rather  a  mob  than  an  army  ;  they  professed  to  be  on 
the  emperor's  side,  because  of  the  opportunity  that 
was   allowed    them    for   pillaging   and    insulting  the 



Italian  country  people,  but  in  the  field  they  were 
worse  than  useless.  The-n,  too,  Belisarius  had  asso- 
ciated with  him  other  commanders  with  authority 
nearly  equal  to  his  own ;  and  they  were  little  inclined 
to  submit  to  a  chief  whom  they  knew  to  be  under 
the  emperor's  frown.  His  plans  were  thwarted  con- 
tinually, and  he  was  sometimes  obliged  to  defer  to 
the  opinions  of  his  subordinates  against  his  own  wiser 

Even  under  these  miserable  circumstances  Beli- 
sarius managed  to  gain  some  advantages  over  the 
enemy,  and  to  delay  for  a  long  time  Totila's  march 
to  Rome.  But  when  a  year  had  passed  he  felt  that 
the  Goths  would  never  be  conquered  with  such  means 
as  he  had.  He  therefore  wrote  an  urgent  letter  to 
the  emperor,  begging  him  to  send  to  Italy  an  army 
worthy  of  the  name,  and  money  for  the  heavy  arrears 
of  pay  that  were  due  to  the  barbarian  troops.  To 
show  to  Justinian  emphatically  how  hopeless  he  con- 
sidered the  struggle  to  be  without  further  resources, 
he  left  Italy  altogether,  and  waited  at  Durazzo,  on 
the  other  side  of  the  Adriatic,  until  the  soldiers  should 
arrive  from  Constantinople. 

While  Belisarius  was  waiting,  Rome  was  once  more 
undergoing  the  miseries  of  a  close  blockade.  The 
commander  of  the  emperor's  garrison  was  Bessa,  the 
Thracian  Goth,  a  man  who  in  the  past  had  shown 
himself  a  brave  soldier,  but  whose  hard  -  hearted 
avarice  now  added  to  the  wretchedness  of  the  unfor- 
tunate Romans.  The  hardships  which  the  citizens 
had  to  endure  were  a  matter  of  satisfaction  to  him, 
for  they  enabled  him  to  enrich  himself  by  selling,  at 


outrageous  prices,  the  provisions    of   which  he  had 
collected  an  ample  store. 

When  the  senators  found  that  there  was  little 
prospect  of  speedy  relief,  they  determined  to  try 
whether  they  could  induce  Totila  to  agree  to  favour- 
able terms  of  surrender.  They  chose  as  their  am- 
bassador a  deacon  named  Pelagius,  who  had  gained 
great  esteem  among  the  people  by  the  generosity 
with  which  he  had  supplied  the  necessities  of  the 
poor  during  the  siege.  His  instructions  were  to  ask 
Totila  for  a  truce  of  a  few  days,  and  to  promise,  if  he 
would  agree  to  their  conditions,  that  at  the  end  of 
that  period  the  city  should  be  given  up,  unless  an 
imperial  army  arrived  in  the  meantime  for  its 

Totila  received  Pelagius  with  a  great  appearance 
of  respect  and  kindness,  but  said  that  before  they 
entered  into  any  discussion  it  must  be  understood 
that  on  three  points  his  mind  was  firmly  made  up. 
"  In  the  first  place,"  said  he,  "  you  must  not  ask  me 
to  let  the  Sicilians  go  unpunished  for  their  treachery. 
Secondly,  I  am  resolved  that  the  walls  of  Rome 
shall  be  destroyed.  This  will  be  far  better  for  the 
citizens  themselves,  because  they  will  then  be  in  no 
danger  of  having  again  to  suffer  the  calamity  of  a 
siege.  The  third  point  is  that  I  will  listen  to  no  pro- 
posals for  restoring  to  their  former  masters  the  slaves 
who  have  taken  service  in  the  Gothic  army.  I  have 
pledged  my  word  to  them  that  they  shall  be  free  ;  if 
I  broke  faith  towards  these  unfortunate  people,  how 
could  you  trust  in  my  observing  any  treaty  I  made 
with  you  .?     Apart  from  these  three  points,  however, 


I  am  ready  to  consider  favourably  any  proposition 
you  have  to  make." 

When  he  heard  these  words  Pelagius  lost  his 
temper,  and  said  fiercely  that  to  lay  down  such  con- 
ditions of  discussion  was  a  gross  insult,  and  that  after 
this  he  could  only  regard  Totila's  show  of  politeness 
as  a  downright  mockery.  "  I  came,"  he  said,  "  as 
a  suppliant  ;  but  now  I  disdain  to  make  any  request 
of  you — I  will  address  my  prayers  to  God,  whose  it  is 
to  humble  the  arrogance  of  the  mighty."  And  so 
Pelagius  went  back  to  the  city  with  his  message 

Days  passed  away,  and  still  no  succour  came. 
Men  were  dying  of  hunger  in  the  city,  while  the 
soldiers  were  well-fed,  and  their  officers  still  kept  up 
their  accustomed  luxury.  Assembling  in  a  body,  the 
citizens  surrounded  the  house  of  Bessa,  and  by  their 
uproar  compelled  him  to  come  out  and  listen  to 
their  complaints.  They  besought  him  either  to  let 
them  go  out  of  the  city,  or  to  supply  them  with  food, 
or,  if  he  would  do  neither,  to  kill  them  and  end  their 
miseries.  Bessa  replied  coolly  that  to  find  them  food 
was  impossible  ;  to  kill  them  would  be  wicked,  and 
to  let  them  go  would  be  dangerous.  But  he  ended 
his  speech  by  saying  that  he  had  certain  information 
that  Belisarius  was  speedily  coming  with  a  new  army. 
His  manner  convinced  them  that  he  was  speaking  the 
truth,  and  the  crowd  dispersed  without  making  any 
attempt  at  violence. 

The  news  was  indeed  true.  After  every  possible 
excuse  for  delay  had  been  exhausted,  Justinian  had 
at  last  despatched  an  army  to  Durazzo.     As  soon  as 


it  arrived,  Belisarius  embarked  with  the  troops,  and 
after  a  sail  of  five  days  his  ships  cast  anchor  in  the 
port  of  Rome. 

But  the  famine  continued  to  do  its  fearful  work, 
until  at  last  an  incident  happened  which  compelled 
Bessa  to  relax  his  cruel  rule.  A  certain  man  in  the 
city,  worn  out  by  the  cries  of  his  five  children  for 
bread  which  he  could  not  give  them,  at  last  bade 
them  follow  him,  saying  that  he  would  find  them 
food.  He  led  them  through  the  streets  till  he  came 
to  a  bridge  over  the  Tiber,  and  then,  wrapping  his 
cloak  round  his  head,  he  plunged  into  the  river  and 
was  drowned  before  the  eyes  of  his  children  and  of 
the  crowd.  The  city  rang  with  cries  of  indignation 
against  the  Roman  officers.  Bessa  perceived  that  the 
hungry  populace  was  becoming  dangerous.  He  gave 
permission  that  the  citizens  might  go  whither  they 
would,  and  supplied  them  with  money  for  their 
journey.  All  but  a  very  few  accepted  the  offer,  but 
vast  numbers  of  them  died  of  hunger  on  the  way,  or 
fell  into  the  hands  of  the  enemy  and  were  killed. 

The  first  concern  of  Belisarius  was  to  try  to  get 
Rome  supplied  with  provisions.  But  his  plan  required 
the  help  of  Bessa  ;  and  Bessa  sullenly  refused  to  obey 
his  orders,  and  the  well-laid  scheme  came  to  nothing. 
After  this  failure  Belisarius  prepared  for  an  attack  on 
the  Gothic  camp  ;  and  here  again  he  would  have 
succeeded  but  for  the  disobedience  of  his  officers. 
Ten  miles  from  Rome,  and  half  way  between  the 
city  and  the  port,  Totila  had  built  a  wooden  bridge 
across  the  river,  and  had  erected  upon  it  two  towers, 
which  he  manned  with  four  hundred  of  his  bravest 


soldiers.  Belisarius,  leaving  his  wife  Antonina  and 
his  treasures  at  the  port,  in  charge  of  one  of  his 
officers  named  Isaac,  set  out  with  a  fleet  of  vessels, 
headed  by  two  fireships,  to  destroy  the  obstacle  with 
which  Totila  sought  to  prevent  his  approach.  He 
sent  word  to  Bessa  to  second  his  attack  by  a  sally 
from  the  gates  of  Rome,  and  he  strictly  charged 
Isaac  on  no  account  to  leave  his  post. 

The  attack  on  the  bridge  was  successful  :  one  of 
the  towers  took  fire,  and  two  hundred  Goths  perished 
in  the  flames.  But  Bessa  did  not  make  the  expected 
sortie  ;  and  Isaac,  heedless  of  his  orders,  foolishly 
made  an  attack  on  a  strong  body  of  the  enemy,  and 
was  defeated  and  captured. 

The  news  that  Isaac  was  a  prisoner  was  brought 
to  Belisarius  in  the  midst  of  his  victory.  He  rushed 
to  the  conclusion  that  the  port  must  have  been  taken, 
and  that  his  dearly-loved  wife  was  in  the  hands  of 
the  enemy.  "  For  the  first  time  in  his  life,"  says 
Procopius,  "  he  was  struck  with  panic."  Leaving 
unfinished  the  work  he  had  so  brilliantly  begun,  he 
hurried  back  to  the  port.  His  wife  was  safe ;  but 
the  anguish  he  had  undergone,  and  the  mortification 
at  the  failure  of  his  plan,  so  worked  upon  him  that  he 
fell  into  an  illness,  and  was  for  a  long  time  helpless 
and  in  danger  of  his  life.  And  while  Belisarius  lay 
on  his  bed  of  sickness,  the  Asinarian  gate  was  opened 
by  the  treachery  of  four  sentinels,  and  Rome  fell  once 
more  into  the  hands  of  the  Goths. 

It  was  on  the  evening  of  December  17,  546,  that 
Totila  and  his  army  passed  through  the  gate.  Totila 
did  not  feel  very  sure  that  the  four  sentinels  were  not 


leading  him  into  a  trap,  and  so  he  caused  his  men  to 
remain  in  a  compact  body  near  the  gates  until  day- 
break. In  the  night  the  news  was  brought  to  him 
that  the  imperial  army  and  its  leaders  had  fled  from 
the  city,  and  some  of  his  officers  urged  him  to  pursue 
them.  "Let  them  go,"  he  said;  "what  could  we 
wish  for  more  than  for  the  enemy  to  run  away  ?  " 

When  morning  came  it  was  plain  that  the  report 
was  true.  The  city  was  deserted,  except  for  a  few 
soldiers  who  had  taken  refuge  in  the  churches,  and 
about  five  hundred  of  the  citizens.  Totila's  first  act 
was  to  repair  to  the  church  of  St.  Peter  to  give 
thanks  to  God  for  his  victory.  While  he  was  thus 
engaged,  the  deacon  Pelagius  brought  him  word  that 
the  Goths  were  slaughtering  the  unresisting  Romans 
in  the  streets,  and  holding  the  book  of  the  Gospels  in 
his  hand,  he  implored  him  to  remember  the  Christian 
law  of  mercy.  '"  So,  after  all,  Pelagius,"  said  Totila, 
with  a  smile,  "  you  are  coming  to  me  as  a  suppliant." 
"  Yes,"  was  the  deacon's  answer,  "  because  God  has 
made  me  your  slave.  I  beseech  you,  O  our  master, 
to  spare  the  lives  of  your  slaves."  Totila  at  once 
sent  out  strict  orders  that  there  was  to  be  no  more 
violence,  but  he  permitted  his  soldiers  to  plunder  the 
city.  A  great  quantity  of  spoil  was  taken,  especially 
in  the  palace  occupied  by  Bessa,  who  in  his  hasty 
flight  had  had  to  leave  behind  him  all  his  ill-gotten 

Amongst  the  few  once  wealthy  Romans  who  re- 
mained in  the  city,  and  who,  it  is  said,  were  actually 
reduced  to  beg  their  bread  from  their  conquerors,  was 
Rusticiana,   the    widow    of   Boethius.     Some  of  the 



Goths  demanded  that  she  should  be  put  to  death, 
because  she  had  given  money  to  the  Roman  officers 
to  induce  them  to  destroy  the  statues  of  Theoderic. 
But  Totila  insisted  that  the  aged  lady  should  be 
treated  with  all  respect. 

On  the  following  day  Totila  harangued  his  soldiers 
on  his  favourite  theme — the  importance  of  justice  and 
mercy,  as  their  only  hope  of  obtaining  the  blessing  of 
God  on  their  cause.  Soon  afterwards  he  sent  Pela- 
gius  to  Constantinople  with  other  envoys  to  ask 
Justinian  to  agree  to  terms  of  peace  ;  but  the  only 
answer  the  emperor  would  give  was  that  Belisarius 
had  full  powers  to  carry  on  or  to  end  the  war  as 
seemed  to  him  best,  and  that  the  Goths  must  treat 
with  him.  But  we  do  not  find  that  Totila  attempted 
to  open  negotiations  with  Belisarius ;  probably  he 
knew  too  well  the  iron  resolution  of  his  great  anta- 
gonist to  entertain  any  hope  of  success. 

The  failure  of  the  mission  to  Justinian  was  a  great 
disappointment  to  Totila  ;  and  just  about  the  same 
time  he  learned  that  an  expedition  which  he  had  sent 
into  the  south  of  Italy  had  been  defeated  with  great 
slaughter.  Under  the  exasperation  produced  by  these 
events,  he  determined  to  take  his  revenge  on  Rome 
— to  burn  down  its  magnificent  buildings,  and  to 
"  turn  the  city  into  a  sheep-pasture."  Perhaps  he 
would  really  have  disgraced  his  glorious  career  by 
this  barbarous  deed  ;  but  when  Belisarius  heard  of 
his  intention,  he  sent  a  letter  to  the  Gothic  king, 
asking  him  this  pointed  question  :  "  Do  you  choose 
to  appear  in  history  branded  as  the  destroyer  of  the 
noblest   city  in  the  world,   or  honoured   as  its  pre- 


server  ? "  The  messengers  who  bore  the  letter  re- 
ported that  Totila  read  it  over  many  times,  as  if  he 
was  learning  it  by  heart.  After  deep  consideration, 
he  returned  to  Belisarius  the  assurance  that  Rome 
should  be  spared.  The  incident  is  honourable  alike 
to  each  of  the  two  men. 

Now  that  the  long  siege  was  over,  Totila  was  able 
to  turn  his  attention  to  the  other  parts  of  his  king- 
dom, which  had  been  suffering  the  ravages  of  the 
imperial  armies.  He  came  to  the  strange  resolve  of 
abandoning  Rome  altogether,  destroying  a  large  part 
of  the  walls  so  that  it  could  no  longer  be  available  to 
the  enemy  as  a  fortress ;  he  caused  the  senators  to 
accompany  him  on  his  march,  and  sent  the  scanty 
remnants  of  the  citizens,  with  their  wives  and  chil- 
dren, away  into  Campania.  Many  strange  things 
have  happened  in  the  history  of  Rome,  but  surely 
one  of  the  strangest  of  all  is  that  the  vast  city,  with 
all  its  noble  buildings  still  uninjured,  should  have 
remained  for  many  weeks  without  any  inhabitants. 

At  first  Totila  left  behind  him  the  greater  part  of 
his  army  to  keep  a  check  on  the  movements  of 
Belisarius,  while  he  led  the  remainder  into  the  south 
of  Italy.  But  before  long,  for  some  reason  not  quite 
clear,  he  found  it  necessary  to  march  with  all  his 
available  force  towards  Ravenna,  and  the  neighbour- 
hood of  Rome  was  left  unguarded. 

And  now  a  rather  amusing  incident  took  place. 
Belisarius  hurried  up  from  the  port,  and  meeting  with 
no  resistance,  took  possession  of  Rome.  Of  course 
there  was  no  time  to  rebuild  the  fortification  properly, 
but   by   setting   men    to    work    day    and    night,   he 



managed  within  three  weeks  to  erect  a  rough  wall 
in  the  places  where  Totila  had  destroyed  the  original 
defences.  The  inhabitants  flocked  back  to  the  city, 
which  once  more  regained  something  like  its  accus- 
tomed aspect. 

When  Totila  heard  what  had  happened  he  marched 
hastily  with  all  his  army  to  Rome.  When  he 
arrived  Belisan'us  had  not  yet  been  able  to  put  new 
gates  in  the  place  of  those  that  had  been  destroyed  ; 
but  the  city  was  defended  with  so  much  spirit  that 
after  three  furious  attempts  to  take  it  by  storm  the 


Goths  were  compelled  to  abandon  the  undertaking. 
Hitherto,  as  Procopius  says,  the  Goths  had  almost 
worshipped  their  young  king  as  a  god  ;  but  now  they 
angrily  reproached  him  for  not  having  either  de- 
stroyed Rome  or  else  occupied  it  himself  They  did 
not  rise  in  rebellion  against  Totila  :  one  of  their 
national  virtues  was  that  of  faithfulness  to  their 
chosen  leaders,  even  when  unsuccessful.  But  their 
trust  in  his  wisdom   and  fortune  were  shaken,   and 


they  fought  no  longer  with  their  old  enthusiasm  and 

Belisarius  completed  the  fortifications  of  the  city, 
and  sent  the  keys  of  the  new  gates  to  Justinian  as  an 
evidence  of  his  success.  But  although  the  re-occupa- 
tion of  Rome  was  a  clever  exploit,  it  was  more  showy 
than  useful,  and  did  not  help  to  bring  the  end  of  the 
war  any  nearer.  After  several  months  more  of  un- 
profitable skirmishing,  Belisarius  felt  that  the  Goths 
were  not  to  be  conquered  by  a  general  who  had  no 
means  of  commanding  the  obedience  of  his  subordi- 
nates. Weary  of  the  hopeless  struggle,  he  allowed 
his  wife  to  go  to  Constantinople  to  solicit  his  recall. 
Justinian  granted  the  request,  and  early  in  the  year 
549  Belisarius  quitted  Italy  to  return  to  it  no  more. 

His  after  history  does  not  concern  us  here,  but  we 
may  briefly  say  that  he  lived  sixteen  years  longer, 
during  which  he  performed  one  exploit  worthy  of  his 
earlier  fame,  in  saving  Constantinople  from  the  Huns. 
Near  the  end  of  his  life  he  fell  into  disgrace  once 
more  on  account  of  a  suspicion  of  treason,  but  he  was 
again  restored  to  favour,  and  died  in  the  enjoyment 
of  all  his  wealth  and  honours.  It  is  hardly  needful 
to  mention  the  idle  tale  that  in  old  age  and  blindness 
Belisarius  had  to  beg  his  bread  from  door  to  door. 



The  departure  of  Belisarius  was  soon  followed  by 
the  loss  of  Rome.  Again,  as  on  the  last  occasion,  it 
was  through  treason  that  the  city  was  delivered  into 
the  hands  of  the  Goths.  The  Isaurian  soldiers 
amongst  the  garrison  were  discontented  on  account 
of  their  pay  being  long  in  arrear.  If  we  may  believe 
Procopius,  they  had  received  nothing  from  the  imperial 
treasury  for  several  years  ;  though  doubtless  they  had 
been  allowed  to  make  good  the  deficiency  by  the 
plunder  of  the  Italian  peasantry.  They  heard  that 
their  four  countrymen  who  in  the  last  siege  had 
opened  the  Asinarian  gate  to  Totila  had  received 
princely  rewards  for  their  betrayal,  and  they  resolved 
to  follow  the  example.  Totila  readily  accepted  their 
proposal,  and  at  the  time  agreed  upon  a  sudden 
sound  of  trumpets  was  heard,  which  caused  the 
garrison  to  hasten  to  the  portion  of  the  walls  skirting 
the  river,  expecting  that  a  great  attack  was  about  to 
be  made  from  that  side.  Meanwhile,  the  Gate  of  St. 
Paul,  on  the  north-west,  was  opened  by  the  Isaurian 
traitors,  and  Totila  and  the  vanguard  of  his  army 
marched  into  the  city.  The  imperial  soldiers  fled  in 
all  directions  through  the  other  gates,  but  Totila  had 


posted  strong  bodies  of  men  to  intercept  their  flight, 
and  very  few  of  them  escaped  the  sword. 

There  was,  however,  one  brave  officer  amongst  the 
besieged,  Paul  of  CiHcia,  who  with  his  four  hundred 
men  took  refuge  in  the  fortress-tomb  of  Hadrian,  and 
prepared  to  hold  it  against  all  attacks.  But  the  Goths 
were  wiser  than  to  attempt  an  assault.  They  closely 
surrounded  the  fortress,  and  remained  quiet,  waiting 
for  hunger  to  do  its  work.  At  length  the  brave  four 
hundred  found  that  they  could  hold  out  no  longer, 
and  resolved  to  sally  forth  in  one  desperate  charge 
against  the  foe.  Feeling  that  they  were  about  to  rush 
upon  certain  destruction,  they  embraced  each  other, 
and  "kissed  each  other  with  the  kiss  of  those  doomed 
to  death  ; "  and  then  they  issued  from  the  gate  of  the 
castle,  expecting  to  perish,  but  determined  to  sell 
their  lives  as  dearly  as  they  could.  Before,  however, 
they  reached  the  Gothic  lines,  they  were  met  by  a 
flag  of  truce,  bringing  the  unlooked-for  ofter  from  the 
Gothic  king,  that  he  would  either  send  them  unhurt 
to  Constantinople,  on  condition  of  laying  down  their 
arms  and  giving  their  promise  never  more  to  fight 
against  the  Goths,  or,  if  they  chose,  he  would  accept 
them  as  soldiers  in  his  own  army,  on  an  equal  footing 
with  his  own  countrymen.  Brave  men  as  they  were, 
life  was  sweet,  and  they  hailed  with  joy  the  sudden 
deliverance.  At  first  they  asked  to  be  sent  to  Con- 
stantinople ;  but  when  they  thought  of  the  cold  re- 
ception they  would  meet  with  there,  and  the  dangers 
of  the  journey  to  unarmed  men,  they  came  to  the 
conclusion  that  Totila  was  a  better  master  to  serve 
than  Justinian,  and  so  they  agreed  to   be  enrolled   in 



the  Gothic  ranks.  There  were  also  four  hundred  other 
soldiers  who  instead  of  escaping  from  the  city  had 
taken  refuge  in  the  churches,  and  these  too  joined 
themselves  to  Totila's  army. 

A  few  months  before  these  events,  Totila  had  sent 
an  embassy  to  one  of  the  Prankish  kings,  asking  the 
hand  of  his  daughter  in  marriage.  The  ambassadors 
not  only  brought  back  a  refusal,  but  also  a  very  in- 
sulting message.  *'  Tell  your  master,"  said  king 
Theudebert,  "  that  we  cannot  recognize  as  King  of 
Italy  a  man  who  could  not  keep  Rome  when  he  had 
it,  but  allowed  it  to  fall  into  the  hands  of  his  enemies." 
Totila  was  deeply  stung  by  this  taunt,  and  he 
resolved  to  prove  to  the  world  that  he  was  not 
unworthy  to  be  the  master  of  Rome.  He  carefully 
restored  all  the  buildings  and  the  portions  of  the 
walls  that  had  been  destroyed,  and  sent  for  the 
senators  who  were  imprisoned  in  Campania.  The  city 
assumed  its  old  aspect,  and  for  the  last  time  the  ancient 
public  games  were  celebrated  in  the  presence  of  a  sove- 
reign who  sat  on  the  throne  of  the  Western  Caesars. 

Again  the  Goths  were  masters  in  Italy;  the  scattered 
remnants  of  the  imperial  armies  showed  little  sign  of 
being  able  to  offer  any  serious  resistance.  Totila  now 
sent  an  embassy  to  Justinian,  offering  to  become  his 
vassal,  on  "condition  of  being  recognized  as  the  ruler 
of  Italy.  If  the  emperor  had  consented,  perhaps  the 
Gothic  monarchy  might  even  yet  have  established 
itself,  and  the  whole  course  of  the  history  of  Southern 
Europe  would  have  been  different.  But  Justinian 
refused  to  admit  the  ambassadors  to  his  presence,  and 
they  returned  without  obtaining  any  answer. 


Totila  now  set  out  to  fulfil  his  cherished  project  of 
punishing  the  Sicilians  for  their  faithlessness.  Two 
years  were  spent  in  the  plunder  of  the  wealthy  cities 
of  Sicily,  in  the  conquest  of  the  islands  of  Sardinia 
and  Corsica ;  and  in  victorious  invasions  of  the 
emperor's  domains  in  Greece. 

But  amid  all  these  victories,  the  Goths  received 
tidings  that  filled  them  with  dismay.  Justinian,  stirred 
up  to  action  by  the  entreaties  of  Pope  Vigilius,  had 
prepared  a  new  expedition  which  he  had  placed  under 
the  command  of  his  nephew  Germanus.  One  reason 
why  the  Goths  found  this  news  so  disquieting  was 
that  the  new  commander  was  the  husband  of  their 
own  princess  Mataswintha,  who,  it  was  reported,  was 
to  accompanying  him  to  Italy.  The  thought  of 
having  to  fight  against  a  descendant  of  Theoderic 
was  not  a  welcome  one,  and  it  was  greatly  to  be 
feared  that  many  of  Totila's  soldiers  might  be  led  by 
this  feeling  to  desert  their  standards.  Besides  this, 
Germanus  had  proved  himself  a  very  able  general, 
and  if  he  had  not  the  genius  of  Belisarius  he  was  far 
better  supported  than  that  great  commander  had 
been.  Justinian  had,  to  every  one's  surprise,  granted 
immense  sums  of  money  for  the  support  of  the  army, 
and  Germanus  himself  had  contributed  largely  out  of 
his  private  fortune.  The  high  pay  that  was  offered 
had  tempted  great  numbers  of  Gepids,  Herules,  Lom- 
bards, and  other  barbarians,  to  enhst  under  Germanus, 
so  that  the  expedition  which  now  threatened  the 
Gothic  power  was  by  far  the  most  formidable  that 
Justinian  had  ever  sent  into  the  field. 

But  it  was  not  fated  that  Germanus  should  be  the 


conqueror  of  Totila.  Before  he  had  crossed  the 
Adriatic,  he  fell  sick  and  died,  widely  regretted 
throughout  the  empire,  for  he  was  known  as  a  man 
of  pure  and  noble  character,  and  there  were  many 
who  hoped  that  he  would  succeed  Justinian,  and  that 
his  accession  would  be  the  beginning  of  happier  days 
for  the  heavily  burdened  people. 

Shortly  after  his  death  Mataswintha  bore  a  son, 
who  was  named  Germanus  like  his  father.  It  has 
been  supposed  that  there  was  a  party  among  the 
Goths  who  desired  that  this  young  Germanus  might 
some  day  be  installed  as  Western  C?esar,  or  "  King  of 
Goths  and  Italians,"  with  the  consent  and  under  the 
protection  of  the  court  of  Constantinople.  However, 
he  seems  himself  to  have  had  no  ambition  of  that 
kind.  He  lived  a  quiet  and  honoured  life  for  fifty 
years,  and  then  became  involved  in  conspiracies,  on 
account  of  which  he  and  his  only  child  (a  daughter) 
were  put  to  death  in  the  year  604.  And  so  the  line 
of  the  great  Theoderic  came  to  an  end. 

The  question  which  Justinian  had  now  to  consider 
was,  who  should  be  appointed  commander  of  the 
Italian  army  in  his  nephew's  place.  It  was  above  all 
things  necessary  that  the  new  leader  should  be  one 
whose  authority  all  the  other  officers  would  obey 
without  dispute.  To  raise  one  of  the  generals  to  the 
supreme  command  would  have  been  to  provoke  again 
the  jealousies  and  the  disobedience  which  had  been 
fatal  to  the  enterprise  of  Belisarius.  Justinian  solved 
the  difficulty  by  offering  the  headship  of  the  army  to 
the  highest  official  of  his  court,  the  chamberlain 
Narses,  the  same  whose  meddling  in  the  Italian  war 


twelve  years  before,  and  its  unfortunate  results,  we 
have  already  described.  He  was  now  seventy-five 
years  of  age,  and  feeble  in  body  ;  but  that  he  was 
still  vigorous  in  mind  was  proved  by  the  event.  For 
it  was  he  who  achieved  the  task  which  Belisarius, 
in  the  prime  of  his  manhood,  had  failed  to  accomplish 
— the  ruin  of  the  Gothic  nation,  and  the  establish- 
ment of  the  empire  in  Italy. 

When  Justinian  proposed  to  Narses  that  he  should 
assume  the  command  in  Italy,  he  refused  to  do  so 
except  on  one  condition.  He  must  have  unlimited 
supplies  of  money,  so  that  he  might  raise  an  army 
absolutely  overwhelming  in  numbers — even  the  army 
collected  under  Germanus  seemed  to  him  insufficient 
— and  that  when  he  arrived  in  Italy  he  might  reconcile 
the  mutinous  soldiers  and  win  back  the  deserters  by 
giving  them  their  full  arrears  of  pay.  The  emperor 
knew  his  aged  servant's  faithfulness  and  his  wisdom, 
and  he  had  learned  by  bitter  experience  that  too 
much  parsimony  was  a  great  mistake.  The  request 
of  Narses  was  granted,  and  before  long  he  had  arrived 
at  the  head  of  the  Adriatic  with  such  an  army  as  had 
never  before  been  collected  in  the  name  of  Justinian. 
The  soldiers  came  from  every  quarter  of  the  eastern 
empire,  and  from  many  barbarous  peoples  beyond  its 
bounds.  Even  distant  Persia  was  represented  by  a 
large  body  of  deserters,  who  served  under  a  grandson 
of  the  Persian  king. 

What  Narses  at  first  intended  to  do  was  to  enter 
Italy  from  the  north,  and  march  southward  along  the 
middle  of  the  peninsula.  But  here  he  met  with  un- 
expected difficulties.     Totila  had  sent  the  bulk  of  his 

304      THE   RUIN   OF   THE   OSTROGOTHS. 

army  to  Verona,  commanded  by  a  general  named 
Teia,  who  had  taken  vigorous  means  to  render  the 
invasion  impossible  by  destroying  the  roads,  and 
making  ditches  and  embankments.  Besides  this,  the 
Franks  were  occupying  Venetia  with  a  strong  force, 
and  they  refused  to  allow  the  passage  of  the  emperor's 
army,  because — that  was  the  reason  they  gave — their 
enemies  the  Lombards  were  serving  in  it.  It  was 
plain  that  if  Narses  persisted  in  his  original  plan  he 
would  have  to  fight  not  only  with  the  Goths,  but  with 
the  powerful  army  of  the  Franks. 

But  what  else  was  he  to  do  ?  He  had  not  ships 
enough  to  transport  his  army  by  sea  ;  and  it  seemed 
impossible  to  march  along  the  coast,  because  there 
were  twelve  broad  rivers  to  be  crossed.  A  council  or 
war  was  called,  at  which  one  of  the  generals,  John  the 
grandson  of  Vitalian,  suggested  a  clever  plan  that 
solved  the  difficulty.  The  army  was  to  travel  on  foot 
close  to  the  sea-shore,  and  the  ships  and  boats  were  to 
sail  alongside  of  it,  so  that  when  there  was  a  river  to 
be  crossed  a  bridge  of  boats  could  be  made  for  the 
soldiers  to  pass  over. 

This  ingenious  contrivance  was  adopted,  and  the 
army  arrived  at  Ravenna  without  meeting  with  any 
resistance.  Here  they  rested  for  nine  days.  During 
this  period  of  repose,  Narses  received  a  letter  from  the 
commander  of  the  Gothic  garrison  at  Ariminum,  named 
Usdrila  [Austrila  ?],  sneeringly  asking  whether  the 
Romans  meant  to  hide  themselves  behind  stone  walls, 
and  challenging  them  to  come  out  and  fight  like  men. 
Narses  laughed  heartily  at  this  foolish  letter,  and 
when  his  men  were  sufficiently  rested  he  set  out  on 


his  march  to  Ariminum.  At  the  bridge  over  the  river 
Marecchia  there  was  a  skirmish,  in  which  the  boast- 
ful Usdrila  was  killed,  and  his  head  carried  into  the 
Roman  camp.  Narses  did  not  pause  to  attempt  the 
capture  of  Ariminum,  but  hastened  along  the  Flami- 
nian  Way,  till  he  came  near  to  the  little  town  of  Taginae 
(Tadino).  Here  Totila,  who  had  been  joined  by  the 
army  of  Tela,  had  pitched  his  camp. 

Narses  now  sent  some  of  his  officers  to  the  Gothic 
king,  urging  him  to  surrender,  and  not  to  risk  a  battle 
against  overwhelming  numbers.  Totila  would  not 
hear  of  submission,  and  the  envoys  then  requested  him 
to  fix  a  day  for  the  battle.  "  This  day  week,"  he  replied. 
But  Narses  was  not  to  be  deceived  by  such  a  simple 
trick  as  this,  and  when  on  the  very  next  day  the  Goths 
came  in  force  to  attack  the  Roman  camp  they  found 
the  enemy  expecting  them,  and  were  heavily  repulsed. 

Both  sides  now  prepared  themselves  for  a  great 
pitched  battle,  and  the  commanders  made  speeches 
to  their  men  to  encourage  them  for  the  struggle  which 
they  felt  would  decide  the  fate  of  Italy.  The  Goths 
were  terribly  cast  down  by  the  sight  of  the  vast 
numbers  and  the  splendid  equipment  of  the  Roman 
army,  and  all  Totila's  eloquence  was  needed  to  keep 
them  from  despair. 

"  Fellow  soldiers,"  he  said,  "  this  is  our  last  struggle. 
If  we  win  this  battle,  Justinian's  power  is  crushed,  and 
our  freedom  is  secure.  Show  yourselves  men  this 
day,  for  to-morrow  it  will  be  too  late  ;  spare  neither 
your  horses  nor  your  arms,  for  whether  victors  or 
vanquished  you  will  never  need  them  more.  Re- 
member that  there  is  no  safety  for  you  but  in  victory ; 


to  flee  is  to  seek  destruction.  Let  not  the  multitude 
of  the  enemy  dismay  you  ;  we  are  a  nation  fighting 
for  our  freedom,  for  our  country,  for  all  that  makes 
Hfe  precious  ;  they  are  a  hireUng  band  of  Huns  and 
Herules,  and  people  of  all  races  and  tongues,  divided 
by  ancient  hatreds  and  bound  together  by  no  common 
interest  but  their  pay." 

The  two  armies  were  now  drawn  up  in  battle  array. 
The  Romans  remained  quiet,  expecting  the  Goths  to 
begin  the  attack.  But  Totila  found  it  necessary  to 
delay,  as  a  body  of  two  thousand  men,  on  whose  help 
he  had  counted,  had  failed  to  arrive  at  the  appointed 
time.  In  order  to  gain  time,  he  sent  messengers  to 
Narses  pretending  that  he  wished  to  treat  for  peace  ; 
but  Narses  refused  to  agree  for  a  conference,  knowing 
that  the  request  could  only  be  a  stratagem.  Mean- 
while, in  order  to  distract  the  attention  of  his  own 
men,  Totila  rode  in  front  of  the  Gothic  lines,  clothed 
in  golden  armour  and  purple  robes,  and  displayed  his 
skill  in  horsemanship,  galloping  round  in  circles, 
throwing  up  his  spear  and  catching  it  as  he  rode,  and 
other  such  feats — "just  as  if  he  had  been  trained  for 
the  circus,'*  says  Procopius.  But  about  noon  the  two 
thousand  arrived,  and  then  Totila  retired  to  his  tent 
and  changed  his  dress,  while  his  soldiers  took  their 
midday  meal.  As  soon  as  this  was  over,  he  mar- 
shalled his  men,  and  made  a  sudden  assault  upon  the 
Roman  lines,  thinking  that  after  his  temporary  retire- 
ment he  should  take  the  enemy  by  surprise.  But 
Narses  guessed  his  intention,  and  the  Romans  re- 
mained in  perfect  order,  their  food  being  served  out 
to  them  as  they  stood  in  the  ranks. 



Totila's  attack  was  badly  planned  :  but  no  skill  in 
generalship  would  have  been  of  much  avail  against  an 
enemy  so  far  superior  in  numbers  and  in  arms.  Narses 
had  neglected  no  means  of  stimulating  the  valour  of 
his  troops.  Before  the  battle  he  had  ridden  through 
the  camp,  accompanied  by  men  who  bore  aloft  on 
their  lances  collars,  bracelets,  and  horse-trappings  of 
gold,  which  were  to  be  the  prizes  of  those  who  dis- 
tinguished themselves  on  that  day.  His  barbarian 
soldiers  could  understand  this  language,  if  they  could 
not  understand  his  spoken  words,  and  barbarians  and 
Romans  vied  with  each  other  in  their  eagerness  to 
win  the  promised  rewards.  The  Goths  fought  with 
all  the  energy  of  despair,  and  though  the  battle  went 
against  them  from  the  first,  it  was  not  till  far  on  in 
the  night  that  they  were  driven  from  the  field.  Six 
thousand  of  them  were  killed,  in  the  battle  ;  many 
thousands  more  were  taken  prisoners,  and  afterwards 
massacred  in  cold  blood. 

After  the  fight  was  over,  the  king  of  the  Goths  was 
making  his  escape  from  the  battle-field  accompanied 
by  two  or  three  of  his  faithful  friends,  when  Asbad, 
the  chief  of  the  Gepids,  rushed  at  him  with  his  lance, 
not  knowing,  in  the  darkness,  who  he  was.  One  of 
the  Goths  mdignantly  exclaimed,  "  Dog  !  would  you 
kill  your  own  master  ?  "  Asbad  knew  then  whom  he 
was  attacking,  and  thrust  at  Totila  with  all  his 
strength,  but  himself  fell  wounded  immediately  after. 
The  Goths  carried  their  master  as  far  as  Capra^,  a 
village  seven  miles  away,  where  he  shortly  afterwards 
breathed  his  last.  His  companions  buried  him 
secretly  near  the  village  where  he  died,  but  his  grave 

308      THE   RUIN   OF   THE   OSTROGOTHS, 

was  not  destined  to  remain  unmolested.  A  few  days 
after  the  battle,  a  Gothic  woman  betrayed  the  secret 
of  the  king's  resting-place  to  some  of  the  imperial 
officers.  Eager  to  convince  themselves  that  Totila 
was  really  dead,  they  opened  the  grave,  and  found 
that  the  woman's  story  was  true.  They  then  com- 
mitted the  body  again  to  the  earth,  having  first 
despoiled  it  of  its  clothing  and  ornaments,  which  were 
afterwards  sent  to  Justinian  as  evidence  that  his 
enemy  was  no  more. 

Such  was  the  sad  end  of  this  gallant  young  king, 
after  a  reign  of  eleven  years.  We  cannot,  as  some 
have  done,  call  him  the  greatest  of  the  Goths.  He 
had  neither  Theoderic's  unfailing  sagacity  nor  his 
genius  for  command.  But  he  had  the  same  passion 
for  justice,  the  same  lofty  ideal  of  kingship ;  and 
though  the  lustre  of  his  career  is  dimmed  by  more 
than  one  act  of  cruel  revenge,  his  character  is  marked 
on  the  whole  by  a  chivalrous  highmindedness  to  which 
it  would  be  hard  to  find  a  parallel  in  his  own  age. 
There  are  few  personages  of  history  whose  adverse 
fate  so  irresistibly  excites  our  sympathy  as  does  that 
of  Totila — the  Harold  Godwin's  son,  as  Theoderic  is 
the  Alfred,  of  Gothic  history. 

/  After  the  disaster  of  Tadino,  the  remnant  of  the 
Gothic  army  retired  into  Northern  Italy,  and  there 
Teia  was  chosen  king  of  the  Goths.  Narses  pressed 
forward  to  Rome,  and  after  a  short  siege  the  city  was 
once  more  captured — for  the  fifth  time  during  Justi- 
nian's reign.  -^Perhaps  never  before  had  the  Italian 
people  been  so  miserable  as  at  this  time  of  so-called 
*'  Roman  "  victory.     The   barbarians  in  the  imperial 


army,  we  are  told  "  treated  as  enemies  all  who  came 
in  their  way  "  ;  that  is,  they  murdered  and  plundered 
indiscriminately  both  friend  and  foe.  And  the 
Gothic  soldiers  who  garrisoned  the  yet  uncaptured 
cities,  fired  with  revengeful  passion,  and  no  longer 
having  Totila  to  restrain  them,  committed  dreadful 
cruelties  upon  the  unoffending  Romans.  King  Teia 
himself  ordered  the  murder  of  three  hundred  youths 
of  the  noblest  Roman  families,  whom  Totila  had 
detained  as  hostages. 

/"  The  Gothic  kingdom  had  received  its  death-blow 
at  the  battle  of  Tadino  ;  but  it  was  not  yet  dead,  and 
its  last  struggles  were  terrible..^  Teia  saw  clearly  that 
there  was  little  hope  of  contending  unaided  with  the 
mighty  army  of  Narses  ;  he  tried  hard  to  induce  King 
Theudebald  of  the  Franks  to  become  his  ally,  and 
offered  him  large  sums  of  money  as  a  bribe.  But  the 
Franks  were  not  to  be  tempted  :  their  game  was  to 
wait  until  the  Goths  were  beaten  and  the  imperial 
army  weakened  by  the  fierce  conflict  that  was  coming, 
and  then  to  try  to  conquer  Italy  for  themselves. 

When  Teia  found  that  no  Frankish  aid  was  to  be 
hoped  for,  he  marched  with  all  his  army  to  the  rescue 
of  Totila's  brother  Aligern,  who  was  besieged  by  a 
strong  body  of  the  enemy  in  the  fortress-town  of 
Cumae,  where  a  great  part  of  the  Gothic  treasure  was 
deposited.  Narses  with  all  the  imperial  army  hastened 
to  meet  him.  Teia  wished  to  delay  the  unequal 
combat  as  long  as  he  could  :  and  he  pitched  his  camp 
in  a  strong  position  near  the  foot  of  Vesuvius,  pro- 
tected by  a  deep  and  narrow  ravine,  at  the  bottom  of 
which  flows  the  river  Sarno.     The  two   armies  faced 

310      THE   RUIN   OF   THE   OSTROGOTHS. 

each  other  on  opposite  sides  of  the  ravine,  and  harassed 
each  other  by  volleys  of  nmissiles  ;  but  Narses  could 
neither  dislodge  the  Goths  from  their  position  by  force, 
nor  induce  them  to  abandon  it  by  stratagem.  The 
Gothic  camp  was  so  placed  that  it  could  be  kept  con- 
stantly supplied  with  provisions  by  sea  ;  and  it  was 
Teia's  intention  to  hold  out  until — vain  hope  ! — 
Fortune  should  in  some  unknown  way  declare  her- 
self in  his  favour. 

But  after  two  months  the  admiral  of  the  Gothic 
fleet  turned  traitor,  and  delivered  into  the  hands  of 
the  Romans  the  stores  which  he  was  bringing  to  his 
countrymen.  The  Goths  now  began  to  feel  the  pres- 
sure of  hunger,  and  were  obliged  to  forsake  their 
impregnable  position.  At  first  they  betook  themselves 
to  the  heights  of  the  Mons  Lactarius,  now  Monte 
Lettere,  where  they  were  still  secure  from  attack  ;  but 
their  hopes  of  being  able  to  find  food  proved  delusive. 
But  still  they  scorned  the  thought  of  surrender  to  the 
Romans,  and  their  only  alternative  was  to  risk  every- 
thing in  one  desperate  assault  on  the  enemy.  Sending 
away  their  horses,  they  suddenly  rushed  on  foot  upon 
the  astonished  Romans.  The  battle  that  ensued  was 
terrible.  "  Not  one  of  Homer's  heroes,"  says  Proco- 
pius,  "  ever  performed  greater  miracles  of  valour  than 
did  Tela  on  that  day."  After  fighting  for  many  hours 
in  the  front  of  his  army,  he  called  to  his  armour-bearer 
to  change  his  shield,  which  was  heavy  with  the  weight 
of  twelve  broken  spears.  Left  for  a  moment  unpro- 
tected, he  was  pierced  in  the  breast  by  a  dart.  So 
fell  the  last  Gothic  king  of  Italy.  The  Romans  cut 
off  his  head  and  displayed  it  on  a  pole,  to  encourage 



their  own  soldiers  and  to  dismay  their  enemies.  But 
even  the  loss  of  their  king  was  ineffectual  to  abate  the 
desperate  fury  of  the  Goths  ;.  they  fought  on  until  the 
fall  of  night,  and  at  daybreak  they  renewed  the  strug- 
gle, which  continued  till  darkness  again  compelled 
them  to  pause. 
X^  On  the  third  morning,  worn  out  with  fatigue  and 
hunger,  they  felt  that  i^was  impossible  for  them  to 
fight  any  longer.  Their  leaders  sent  ambassadors  to 
Narses  to  treat  for  peace  ;  but  even  then  they  would 
not  humble  themselves  to  become  the  subjects  of 
Justinian.  All  they  would  promise  was  that  they 
would  never  again  bear  arms  against  the  empire,  and 


this  only  on  condition  of  being  allowed  an  unmolested 
passage  out  of  Italy,  and  of  receiving  money  for  the 
expenses  of  their  journey. 

The  Roman  generals  held  a  council  to  discuss  this 
proposal ;  they  had  had  such  terrible  experience  of 
the  desperate  valour  of  the  Goths  that  they  decided 
to  accept  the  conditions.  So,  in  March,  553,  the 
remnant  of  the  defeated  army  set  out  on  their  north- 

^  All  authorities  seem  to  agree  that  these  are  coins  of  Teia  ;  but  I 
cannot  help  suspecting  that  they  may  belong  to  Thela  (Thelane),  the 
son  and  titular  colleague  of  Odovacar. 


ward  march.  What  became  of  them  history  does  not 
say.  Perhaps  they  may  have  found  a  home  among 
the  Franks  or  Alamans;  perhaps  they  may  have 
made  their  way  to  the  kingdom  of  the  Visigoths  in 

But  even  yet  Narses  had  a  hard  struggle  to  undergo 
before  the  conquest  of  Italy  was  complete.  7*-  The 
Gothic  garrisons  in  the  cities  still  offered  an  obstinate 
resistance  to  their  besiegers  ;  and  while  the  emperor's 
generals  were  occupied  with  their  siege  operations, 
the  Franks  saw  the  opportunity  for  which  they  had 
been  waiting.  In  the  autumn,  accompanied  by  their 
half-savage  allies,  the  Alamans,  they  poured  into  Italy, 
to  the  number  of  eighty  thousand  men.  The  brave 
Aligern,  who  had  defended  Cumse  for  a  whole  year, 
surrendered  to  the  Romans,  thinking  it  better  to  be- 
come the  soldier  of  the  empire  than  the  slave  of  the 
Franks.  Soon  afterwards  Lucca  was  taken  by  the 
Romans  ;  but  the  Goths  who  held  the  other  cities 
opened  their  gates  to  the  Franks.  The  invaders 
were  allowed  to  march  over  the  whole  length  of  the 
peninsula  to  the  Straits  of  Messina,  plundering,  burn- 
ing, and  massacring  as  they  went.  The  army  of  Narses 
had  suffered  such  heavy  losses  that  it  was  no  match 
for  this  mighty  horde ;  and  the  commander  was 
obliged  to  remain  in  humiliating  inactivity,  leaving 
the  barbarians  to  roam  unchecked  over  the  land. 

During  the  winter,  however,  the  armies  of  the 
Franks  and  Alamans  were  terribly  wasted  by  plague, 
and  by  the  effects  of  their  own  intemperance  ;  and 
one  of  the  Alaman  leaders  had  returned  to  his  home 
beyond  the  Alps.     When  the   spring  came,  Narses, 


who  in  the  meantime  had  been  assiduously  drilling  his 
men,  prepared  himself  for  a  decisive  encounter  with 
the  foe. 

At  Casilinum,  on  the  banks  of  the  Vulturno,  the 
two  armies  met.  The  Romans  were  still  far  inferior  in 
numbers  to  the  enemy  ;  but  the  skill  of  their  general 
won  the  day.  The  defeat  of  the  Franks  was  so 
crushing  that  they  offered  no  further  resistance,  and 
hastily  sought  their  own  land.  After  the  battle  Narses 
entered  Rome,  and  for  the  last  time  in  history,  the 
imperial  city  beheld  the  stately  ceremonies  of  a 
triumphal  procession. 

^  In  the  next  twelve  months,  the  towns  which  had 
still  held  out  fell  one  by  one  into  the  hands  of  the 
Romans.  The  Goths  who  had  defended  them  either 
went  into  exile  or  became  blended  with  the  surround- 
ing population.  The  nation  of  the  Ostrogoths  was  no 
more.    A 

It  is  strange  to  think  how  different  were  the  fates  of 
the  two  great  Teutonic  kingdoms  which  in  the  last 
quarter  of  the  fifth  century  were  planted  on  Latin  soil. 
After  fourteen  centuries,  the  fruits  of  the  conquests  of 
Clovis  in  Gaul  still  abide.  If  we  cannot  say  that  the 
state  which  he  founded  still  survives,  yet  in  a  real 
sense  he  may  be  called  the  creator  of  the  French 
nation.  The  Franks  were  never  driven  from  Gaul,  and 
though  they  lost  their  native  tongue,  and  were  ab- 
sorbed in  the  greater  mass  of  the  people  whom  they 
had  conquered,  the  country  to  this  day  bears  their 
name.  Theoderic  was  in  all  ways  a  greater  man  than 
Clovis  ;  and  yet  the  results  of  his  conquest  of  Italy 
perished  utterly  within  eighty  years.     The  ruin  of  the 



Ostrogoths  was  the  effect  of  many  combined  causes. 
Their  numbers  from  the  first  were  too  few  to  enable 
them  to  hold  Italy  by  force.  Their  Arian  heresy,  in 
spite  of  their  noble  tolerance  in  matters  of  religion, 
estranged  them  from  the  sympathies  of  their  Catholic 
subjects  ;  and  the  successors  of  Theoderic  inherited 
neither  his  genius  nor  his  lofty  aims.  But  even  so,  we 
know  not  what  the  result  might  have  been  if  Justinian 
had  encouraged  the  Gothic  kings  to  build  up  in  Italy 
a  powerful  dominion,  tributary  to  his  own  sovereignty. 
He  would  have  been  wiser  had  he  adopted  such  a 
policy,  for  the  conquest  of  Italy  brought  no  advantage 
to  the  empire  sufficient  to  repay  the  terrible  sacrifices 
of  blood  and  treasure  by  which  it  was  bought. 

The  conqueror  Narses  was  appointed  the  emperor's 
"  exarch  "  or  governor  of  Italy.  He  took  up  his 
residence  in  Theoderic's  city  of  Ravenna  ;  and  for 
just  two  hundred  years  he  and  his  successors  con- 
tinued to  govern,  on  behalf  of  the  emperors,  as  much 
of  the  country  as  was  left  them  by  the  successive 
conquests  of  Lombards  and  Franks.  But  with  the 
fortunes  and  misfortunes  of  Italy  under  their  rule  our 
story  ha^  nothing  to  do. 



We  have  now  to  take  up  again  the  story  of  the  Visi- 
goths, of  whom  we  have  lost  sight  while  following  the 
history  of  their  eastern  kinsmen  to  its  tragic  close. 
The  Gothic  dominion  in  Spain  lasted  for  a  century 
and  a  half  after  the  downfall  of  the  Ostrogoths  ;  but 
only  a  very  meagre  outline  of  its  history  has  come 
down  to  us.  Our  authorities  henceforward  are  nearly 
all  churchmen  ;  and  very  often  they  pass  over  the 
things  which  we  should  most  like  to  know,  in  order  to 
dwell  on  matters  which  we  regard  as  trifles,  but  which 
were  interesting  to  themselves  because  they  had  some 
connection  with  religion. 

It  has  already  been  mentioned  that  after  the  death 
of  Alaric  IL,  in  507,  the  great  Theoderic  constituted 
himself  the  guardian  of  Amalaric,  the  infant  king  of 
the  Visigoths,  who  was  his  grandson.  While  Theo- 
deric lived,  Spain  and  the  narrow  strip  of  Southern 
Gaul  which  had  been  spared  by  the  Prankish  con- 
quests were  governed  by  him  in  Amalaric's  name. 
The  Ostrogoth  general,  Theudis,  who  was  appointed 
viceroy  in  Spain,  was,  however,  practically  the  king  of 
the  country.  We  are  told  that  he  sent  his  appointed 
tribute  to  Ravenna  every  year,  and  professed  to  render 


obedience  to  his  master's  commands.  Theoderic  was 
jealous  of  his  power,  but  did  not  dare  to  dismiss  him 
from  his  office,  lest  he  should  revolt  to  the  Franks. 
He  made  many  attempts  to  persuade  Theudis  to  visit 
Italy,  but  the  viceroy  was  too  cunning  to  fall  into  the 

When  Theoderic  died  Amalaric,  then  twenty-four 
years  of  age,  was  recognized  as  sovereign  of  all  the 
Gothic  territories  west  of  the  Rhone,  and  the  royal 
treasure  of  the  Visigoths  was  sent  from  Ravenna  to 
Narbonne,  where  the  young  king  held  his  court. 

Amalaric  endeavoured  to  strengthen  his  kingdom 
by  marrying  into  the  family  of  his  dangerous  neigh- 
bours, the  kings  of  the  Franks.  But  this  marriage 
proved  to  be  the  cause  of  his  ruin.  His  queen,  Clotilda 
(Hlothhild),  the  daughter  of  Clovis,  was  a  fervent 
Catholic,  like  her  mother,  after  whom  she  had  been 
named.  Amalaric  had  promised  to  allow  her  to  re- 
tain her  own  religion  ;  but  his  promise  was  broken. 
We  need  not  believe  the  Frankish  historian  when  he 
tells  us  that  the  queen  was  cruelly  tortured  to  induce 
her  to  change  her  faith,  and  that  she  sent  to  her 
brothers  a  handkerchief  stained  with  her  blood,  to 
excite  them  to  avenge  her  wrongs.  But  no  doubt 
she  did  complain  that  she  was  not  allowed  to  worship 
according  to  her  own  conscience.  A  Frankish  king 
was  always  ready  to  seize  upon  a  pretext  for  attacking 
his  weaker  neighbours  ;  and  King  Hildebert,  of  Paris, 
with  a  powerful  army,  marched  against  Narbonne. 
The  Goths  were  defeated,  and  fled  into  Spain.  The 
capital  was  taken,  and  Hildebert  returned  home, 
enriched  with  the  royal  treasures,  and  with  the  plunder 


of  the  Arian  churches.  Queen  Clotilda  accompanied 
her  brother,  but  died  before  arriving  at  Paris.  Amalaric 
was  murdered  in  a  church  at  Barcelona,  by  the  orders 
of  Theudis,  whom  the  people  elected  king  in  his  stead. 

About  the  seventeen  years  (531-548)  during  which 
Theudis  reigned  in  his  own  name,  we  have  very  little 
information.  The  two  kings  of  the  Franks,  Hildebert 
and  Hlothhari  (Clotaire),  invaded  Spain  in  the  year 
543,  and  laid  siege  to  Caesaraugusta,  now  called 
Saragossa.  A  wild  story  is  told,  how  the  citizens, 
hard  pressed  by  famine,  and  on  the  point  of  surrender- 
ing, invoked  (heretics  though  they  were)  the  prayers 
of  the  Catholic  martyr,  Vicentius.  Clothed  in  mourning 
robes,  and  carrying  the  relics  of  the  saint,  they  marched 
solemnly  round  the  walls,  singing  penitential  psalms. 
When  the  Franks  knew  what  was  the  meaning  of  this 
display,  they  were  seized  with  superstitious  panic,  and 
fled  in  wild  disorder.  The  story  was  probably  invented 
to  excuse  the  Frankish  defeat.  The  Goths  overtook 
the  flying  invaders  at  the  foot  of  the  Pyrenees,  and 
the  Frankish  army  would  have  been  utterly  annihi- 
lated, if  its  chiefs  had  not  bribed  the  Gothic  general 
with  large  sums  of  money  to  allow  them  to  make  their 
escape  unmolested  through  the  mountain  passes. 

Even  the  Catholics  admit  that  Theudis  was  a  wise 
and  able  ruler,  and  that  he  followed  the  great  Theo- 
deric's  policy  of  equal  justice  to  his  subjects  of  every 
creed.  When  the  army  of  Justinian  was  making  war 
upon  the  Vandals,  their  king  Gelimer  tried  in  vain  to 
persuade  Theudis  to  take  his  part,  on  the  ground  of 
their  religious  sympathies.  Afterwards,  however,  his 
own  nephew,   Hildibad,  king  of  the  Ostrogoths,  be- 


sought  his  aid  in  his  struggle  with  the  emperor,  and 
Theudis  led  an  army  to  attack  the  cities  which 
Belisarius  had  conquered  from  the  Vandals  in  Africa. 
The  Goths  were  beaten  with  great  slaughter,  and  their 
king  barely  escaped  with  his  life.  The  story  told  to 
excuse  their  ill  success  is  that  they  were  surprised 
while  engaged  in  worship  on  the  Sunday.  They 
thought  that  their  enemies,  being  Christians,  would 
observe  the  day  as  religiously  as  themselves,  and 
therefore  they  were  in  no  fear  of  attack.  This  tale 
would  have  been  more  credible  if  it  had  been  told  of 
Wulfila's  converts  two  centuries  before. 

Shortly  after  this  event  Theudis  was  murdered  in 
his  palace  by  one  of  his  own  soldiers,  who  pretended 
to  be  a  lunatic.  The  dying  king  expressed  bitter  re- 
morse for  his  share  in  the  murder  of  Amalaric,  and 
begged  that  the  life  of  his  assassin  might  be  spared. 

The  usurpation  of  Theudis  had  broken  off  the 
hereditary  succession,  and  the  kingdom  of  the  Visi- 
goths became  once  more  an  elective  one,  as  it  had 
been  in  the  most  ancient  days  of  their  history.  An  elec- 
tive monarch)',  where  representative  government  is  un- 
known, and  where  the  nation  is  too  large  to  be  brought 
together  in  a  body,  must  inevitably  lead  to  disputes 
and  civil  war.  The  successor  of  Theudis  was  Theu- 
digisel,  the  general  who  had  led  the  Goths  to  victory 
over  the  Franks.  He  proved  to  be  a  cruel  tyrant,  and 
the  whole  nation  rejoiced  when,  after  a  reign  of  eigh- 
teen months,  he  was  murdered  by  his  guests  at  a 
banquet  in  his  own  palace.  The  next  election  was  a 
disputed  one.  Agila,  the  king  who  was  chosen  by  the 
northern  cities,  was  not  acknowledged  by  the  south, 


and  his  arbitrary  rule  soon  disgusted  even  his  own 
supporters.  The  southern  rebellion  was  headed  by 
Athanagild,  who  appealed  for  help  to  Constantinople. 
The  emperor  sent  the  Patrician  Liberius  with  a  power- 
ful army  to  his  assistance.  The  struggle  lasted  five 
years.  Agila  was  defeated,  and  was  put  to  death  by 
his  own  soldiers,  and  then  Athanagild  became  king. 

Athanagild's  reign  of  fourteen  years  was  prosperous 
and  peaceful,  except  for  his  wars  with  the  dangerous 
allies  whom  he  invited  into  the  country.  The  em- 
peror's soldiers  seized  many  of  the  cities  of  Spain, 
and  it  was  found  impossible  to  drive  them  out. 

Like  so  many  other  Visigoth  kings,  Athanagild 
sought  to  add  security  to  his  kingdom  by  connecting 
his  family  by  marriage  with  the  house  of  Clovis.  The 
consequences  were  unhappy,  as  usual  ;  the  fate  of 
Athanagild's  two  daughters  is  one  of  the  most  tragic 
episodes  of  Prankish  history.  The  younger  of  them, 
Brunihild,  was  married  to  King  Sigebert  of  the  East 
Franks.  The  wedding  was  celebrated  with  great 
pomp,  and  the  fashionable  poetaster  of  the  time, 
Venantius  Fortunatus,  composed  a  poem  for  the  oc- 
casion. It  is  a  very  heathenish  sort  of  performance, 
though  the  author  was  a  bishop  ;  it  tells  how  the  God 
of  Love  wounded  the  heart  of  Sigebert  with  an  arrow, 
and  then  Venus  and  her  son  extol  in  turn  the 
manly  virtues  of  the  bridegroom  and  the  loveliness  of 
the  bride.  The  brother  of  Sigebert,  Chilperic,  king 
of  the  North-west  Franks,  sought  the  hand  of  Athana- 
gild's elder  daughter,  Geleswintha,  and  in  spite  of  her 
tears  and  entreaties  she  was  compelled  by  her  parents 
to  accept  the  unwelcome  bridegroom.  Both  princesses 


adopted  the  religion  of  their  husbands.  It  was  not 
long  before  Chilperic's  affection  was  estranged  from 
his  queen  by  the  wiles  of  a  woman  named  Fredegunda, 
and  Geleswintha  was  put  to  death  by  his  orders. 
Brunihild  stirred  up  her  husband  to  avenge  the  murder 
of  her  sister.  In  the  war  between  the  two  Prankish 
kingdoms  Sigebert  died,  and  Brunihild  had  a  long  and 
stormy  reign  as  queen-mother.  She  was  a  woman  of 
masculine  energy  and  wonderful  powers  of  mind,  a 
great  ruler,  but  tyrannical  and  unscrupulous,  and  it 
was  said  that  ten  kings  and  queens  lost  their  lives  in 
the  turmoils  which  she  excited.  At  last  she  fell  into 
the  power  of  her  enemy  Fredegunda,  who  caused  her 
to  be  tied  behind  a  horse  and  dragged  along  the  ground 
until  she  died.  Then  her  lacerated  body  was  thrown 
into  the  flames. 

Athanagild  did  not  live  to  hear  of  his  daughter's 
miserable  end.  In  the  year  567  he  died  in  his  palace 
at  Toledo,  beloved  by  his  own  subjects,  and  respected 
by  foreign  nations.  He  was  the  first  Visigoth  king 
since  Euric  who  died  a  natural  death  ;  his  five  prede- 
cessors had  all  come  to  a  violent  end — one  in  battle, 
and  the  rest  by  the  hand  of  assassins. 



After  Athanagild's  death,  five  months  passed 
before  the  Goths  could  agree  on  the  choice  of  his 
successor.  The  dispute,  however,  was  settled  without 
an  appeal  to  the  sword.  The  Gothic  parties  had 
learned  to  dread  the  danger  of  civil  war,  and  the 
different  Spanish  cities,  by  way  of  compromise,  with- 
drew their  respective  candidates,  and  agreed  to  choose 
a  king  from  Gothic  Gaul,  now  the  least  influential  part 
of  the  kingdom.  The  new  king  Leuva  TLiuba)  was  a 
quiet,  unambitious  man,  of  whom  we  hear  neither  good 
nor  evil,  only  that  he  handed  over  the  government  of 
Spain  to  his  brother  Leovigild  (Liobagilths),  prefer- 
ring for  his  own  part  to  remain  at  Narbonne,  which 
thus  became  for  a  short  space  once  more  the  Visigoth 
capital.  In  the  third  year  of  his  reign  he  died,  leaving 
the  kingdom  to  his  brother. 

Leovigild  was  in  many  ways  one  of  the  greatest 
kings  of  his  time.  A  bold  and  skilful  general,  he  sub- 
dued the  kingdom  of  the  Sueves  in  the  north-west  of 
Spain,  wrested  from  the  emperor's  soldiers  several  of 
the  cities  which  they  had  occupied,  and  brought  the 
native   inhabitants   of    the   peninsula  into  complete 



subjection.  He  built  fortresses  and  founded  cities, 
established  a  new  system  of  administration  of  the 
kingdom,  and  made  many  new  laws  suited  to  the 
altered  needs  of  his  people.  It  was  under  his  firm 
rule  that  the  Goths  and  the  Romanised  natives  were 
taught  to  feel  themselves  to  be  the  fellow  subjects 
of  one  kingdom,  and  so  the  process  began  which  ended 
in  the  complete  blending  of  the  two  peoples  into  one. 
In  the  splendour  and  magnificence  of  his  court, 
Leovigild  far  surpassed  all  his  predecessors.  He  was 
the  first  Visigoth  king  who  sat  on  a  raised  throne  in 
the  assembly  of  the  nobles,  and  who  placed  on  his 
coins  his  own  likeness  wearing  a  crown.  It  will  be 
remembered  that  Southey,  in  his  poem  of  "  Roderick," 
in  the  complete  blending  speaks  of 

**  The  golden  pome,  the  proud  array, 
Of  ermine,  aureate  vests,  and  jewel'ry, 
With  all  which  Leovigild  for  after  kings 
Left,  ostentatious  of  his  power." 

The  name  of  Leovigild,  however,  is  best  known  on 
account  of  the  tragic  story  of  the  rebellion  of  his 
eldest  son  Ermenegild,  honoured  in  later  ages  as  a 
saint  and  martyr  of  the  Catholic  Church.  The  cause 
of  trouble  was,  in  this  instance  as  in  so  many  others 
in  Visigoth  history,  a  Prankish  marriage.  The  bride 
whom  Leovigild  obtained  for  his  son  was  Ingunthis, 
the  young  daughter  of  Sigebert  and  Brunihild,  and 
the  wedding  was  celebrated  in  Toledo  with  the 
splendid  ostentation  of  which  the  king  was  so  fond. 
Ermenegild  had  already  received  from  his  father  a 
share  in  the  kingly  dignity,  and  Leovigild  hoped  that 


the  marriage  with  a  Prankish  princess  would  help  to 
ensure  his  son's  succession  to  the  crown. 

But  the  young  daughter  of  Brunihild  belonged  of 
course  to  the  Catholic  faith ;  and  Queen  Goiswintha 
(the  widow  of  Athanagild,  whom  Leovigild  had  mar- 
ried) was  a  bigoted  Arian.  The  Prankish  historian, 
Gregory  of  Tours,  tells  the  story  that  Goiswintha 
dragged  Ingunthis  to  the  ground  by  her  hair,  beat 
her  cruelly,  and  then  forced  her  to  undergo  baptism 
by  an  Arian  priest.  Very  likely  this  is  pure  fiction, 
but  it  seems  to  be  true  that  Queen  Goiswintha  and 
her  daughter-in-law  quarrelled  so  much  that  Leovi- 
gild, for  the  sake  of  peace,  was  glad  to  send  his  son 
to  Seville  as  ruler  of  Southern  Spain. 


Soon  afterwards,  Ermenegild  was  persuaded  by  his 
wife  and  his  uncle  Leander,  the  Catholic  bishop  of  Se- 
ville, to  forsake  the  Church  of  his  fathers.  His  conver- 
sion k)  the  Catholic  faith  bore  no  good  fruits  ;  he  made 
common  cause  with  the  remnant  of  the  imperial  army, 
and  headed  a  rebellion  for  the  purpose  of  wresting 
the  kingdom  out  of  the  hands  of  his  heretic  father. 

Leovigild  tried  in  vain  by  entreaties  to  bring  his 
favourite  son  to  a  sense  of  filial  duty.  Ermenegild, 
whether  it  was  through  fanaticism  or  ambition,  refused 
to  listen  to  any  of  his  proposals,  and  the  king  was 


compelled  to  take  up  arms  for  the  recovery  of  his 
revolted  provinces.  Before  long  Ermenegild  was  shut 
up  in  Seville.  The  siege  lasted  for  two  years  ;  at 
length  the  city  was  taken,  after  the  defenders  had  suf- 
fered terribly  from  famine.  The  prince  escaped  to 
Cordova,  but  his  faithless  friends  from  Constantinople 
betrayed  him  to  his  father  for  a  bribe.  Taking  refuge 
in  a  neighbouring  church,  he  sent  to  implore  Leovi- 
gild's  mercy.  He  received  a  solemn  promise  that  his 
life  should  be  spared,  and  then  ventured  to  leave  his 
place  of  refuge,  and  threw  himself  at  his  father's  feet. 
Leovigild  burst  into  tears,  and  clasped  his  son  in  his 
arms.  But  he  felt  that  Ermenegild  could  no  longer 
be  trusted  with  any  share  in  the  government,  and  he 
ordered  him  to  lay  aside  the  royal  ^  robes,  and  to  take 
up  his  abode  in  Valencia  as  a  private  person. 

A  year  had  not  passed,  however,  when  Leovigild 
heard  that  his  son  had  broken  his  promise  to  remain 
at  Valencia,  and  was  making  his  way  to  Gaul.  Before 
setting  out  he  had  placed  his  wife  under  the  care  of 
the  enemies  of  his  country,  the  Greek  officers  from 
Constantinople ;  and  it  seems  to  have  been  his  purpose 
to  get  the  Franks  to  help  him  in  another  effort  to  de- 
throne his  father.  He  was  captured  at  Tarragona  by 
Leovigild's  soldiers  and  thrown  into  prison.  It  is  re- 
lated that  he  was  visited  in  his  dungeon  time  after 
time  by  messengers  from  his  father,  promising  him 
freedom  and  restoration  to  his  royal  honours  if  he 
would  only  consent  to  abandon  his  new  faith.  But 
his  stedfastness  was  not  to  be  shaken  either  by  pro- 
mise or  threats.  At  last,  an  Arian  bishop,  who  was 
sent  to  administer  to  him  the  Eucharist,  brought  back 

A    SO-CALLED   MARTYR.  325 

word  that  Ermenegild  had  received  him  with  gross 
insults,  calling  him  the  servant  of  the  devil.  Tran- 
sported with  passion,  Leovigild  commanded  that  his 
son  'should  be  put  to  death.  The  sentence  was 
swiftly  carried  out  :  an  executioner  was  sent  to  the 
prison,  and  the  rebellious  prince  was  killed  by  a  blow 
with  an  axe,  without  any  pretence  of  trial. 

It  is  a  repulsive  story.  On  one  side,  we  see  a  son 
making  war  against  his  father  on  the  professed  ground 
of  his  duty  to  the  Church  ;  and  on  the  other  side,  we 
see  a  father  commanding  the  murder  of  his  son.  The 
Catholics  of  Ermenegild's  own  time  and  country,  to 
do  them  justice,  seem  generally  to  have  regarded 
his  rebellion  as  a  crime.  But  in  later  ages,  when  the 
circumstances  were  partly  forgotten,  his  wicked  con- 
duct was  extolled  as  an  act  of  the  noblest  Christian 
virtue,  and  his  name  was  placed  in  the  calendar  as  that 
of  a  saint  and  martyr. 

The  widowed  Ingunthis  was  treated  by  the  em- 
peror's officers  more  like  a  prisoner  than  a  guest,  and 
she  tried  to  make  her  escape  to  her  relatives  in  Gaul. 
She  was  overtaken  in  her  flight,  and  with  her  infant 
son  Athanagild  was  placed  on  board  a  vessel  for  Con- 
stantinople. Ingunthis  died  on  the  journey,  but  her 
son  was  delivered  into  the  hands  of  the  emperor,  at 
whose  court  he  remained  while  he  lived.  This  is  the 
last  we  hear  of  any  interference  of  the  eastern 
emperors  with  the  affairs  of  Gothic  Spain. 

It  is  not  wonderful  that  after  his  son's  rebellion 
Leovigild  regarded  the  Catholic  Church  as  a  danger 
to  the  State,  and  that  he  did  some  things  which  are 
complained    of  as   persecution.     But  the  stories  are 


greatly  exaggerated.  He  did  banish  several  bishops 
but  it  is  not  true  that  any  Catholic  suffered  martyrdom, 
in  his  reign.  Leovigild  was  so  far  from  being  a  bigot 
that  he  was  often  accused  of  hypocrisy  because  he  paid 
religious  honour  to  the  shrines  of  orthodox  as  well  as 
heretic  saints.  He  soon  found  that  harsh  treatment 
of  the  heads  of  their  Church  was  not  the  way  to  win 
over  his  Catholic  subjects  ;  and  he  tried  to  effect  his 
object  by  gentler  means.  He  persuaded  the  Arian 
clergy  to  consent  that  converted  Catholics  should  be 
received  into  their  Church  without  being  baptized 
afresh,  and  to  state  the  articles  of  their  faith  in  such  a 


way  as  to  make  the  differences  between  them  and  the 
orthodox  appear  as  small  as  possible.  The  result  was 
that  large  numbers  of  Catholics  professed  to  accept 
the  king's  religion.  But  the  Arians  were  still  a  small 
minority,  and  their  attachment  to  their  creed  was 
feeble,  while  the  zeal  of  the  Catholics  grew  daily  more 
and  more  intense.  It  was  plain  that  it  would  be  hard 
for  a  heretic  sovereign  to  hold  the  throne  of  Spain  ; 
and  when  the  great  king  died  (in  587)  men  believed 
that  a  great  struggle  was  at  hand,  which  would  end 
only  in  the  overthrow  of  the  Gothic  rule. 




It  had  been  Leovigild's  ambition  to  found  a  here- 
ditary dynasty  ;  and  with  this  end  in  view  he  had 
caused  his  son  Reccared  to  be  elected  his  associate  in 
the  kingdom.  So  when  he  died  there  was  still  a 
crowned  and  chosen  king  in  possession  of  the  throne, 
and  it  was  not  necessary  even  to  go  through  the  form 
of  an  election. 

If  Reccared  had  not  already  gained  the  goodwill 
of  his  people,  very  likely  his  father's  far-seeing  scheme 
would  have  failed.  But  the  young  king  had  distin- 
guished himself  as  a  general,  leading  the  Goths  to 
victory  over  the  Franks,  and  he  had  shown  wisdom 
and  energy  as  a  ruler.  The  nation  therefore  gladly 
accepted  him  as  sole  sovereign  after  his  father's  death. 

Reccared  saw  clearly  that  he  was  likely  to  be  over- 
matched in  the  struggle  with  the  growing  power  of 
the  Catholic  Church.  He  resolved  to  convert  that 
power  from  an  enemy  into  a  friend,  by  himself  adop- 
ting the  religion  of  the  majority  of  his  subjects,  and 
inducing  the  Goths  to  follow  his  example.  It  is  quite 
possible  that  he  may  have  been  sincerely  convinced 
that  the  Catholic  faith  was  true ;  but  this  change  of 


religious  profession  was  certainly  the  wisest  step  he 
could  have  taken  in  the  interest  of  his  kingdom. 

In  order  that  his  conversion  might  seem  to  proceed 
from  deliberate  inquiry,  he  called  together  the  bishops 
of  both  churches,  and  invited  them  to  hold  in  his 
presence  a  public  discussion  of  the  arguments  for  their 
respective  creeds.  He  was  anxious,  he  said,  to  know 
the  truth,  and  the  result  of  the  debate  should  deter- 
mine whether  he  should  accept  the  Catholic  faith,  or 
remain  an  Arian.  The  champions  on  both  sides  put 
forth  all  their  eloquence  and  learning,  and  when  the 
discussion  was  ended  the  king  proclaimed  his  convic- 
tion that  the  orthodox  creed  was  supported  by  over- 
whelming evidence  of  Scripture  and  miracles  ;  and 
soon  afterwards  he  was  publicly  received  into  the 
Catholic  Church. 

The  conversion  of  the  king  was  soon  followed  by 
that  of  the  whole  nation.  At  first  sight  this  seems 
strange  ;  but  the  Goths  had  long  been  losing  interest  in 
the  distinctive  articles  of  their  creed.  They  had  lived 
surrounded  by  Catholics,  hearing  daily  of  the  miracles 
wrought  at  the  tombs  of  Catholic  saints.  They  could 
not  help  seeing  that  their  church  was  only  an  insig- 
nificant sect,  a  small  exception  to  the  unity  of  the 
Christian  world.  They  could  not  help  being  impressed 
by  the  fervent  faith  of  their  Catholic  neighbours. 
And  to  these  many  influences  they  were  all  the  more 
open  because  their  divines  had  taught  them  to  be 
tolerant  in  their  judgment  of  those  who  rejected  their 
creed.  In  Leovigild's  reign  a  Spanish  Goth  had 
horrified  the  Catholic  bishop  Gregory  of  Tours  by  say- 
ing that  it  was  a  Christian's  duty  to  treat  with  respect 


whatever  was  reverenced  by  others — even  by  idolaters. 
It  is  by  a  strange  accident  indeed,  that  the  name 
Visigoth  has  given  rise  to  our  word  bigot,^  for  never 
was  there  a  nation  who  so  Httle  deserved  the  reproach 
of  bigotry  as  the  Visigoths  of  Spain.  If  their  name 
had  become  a  synonym  for  religious  indifference  or 
lukewarmness,  it  would  have  been  much  more  appro- 

Still,  however  little  the  Gothic  people  knew  or  cared 
about  the  differences  between  the  two  churches, 
Arianism  had  been  for  three  centuries  their  national 
faith,  and  patriotic  pride  had  kept  them  faithful  to  it 
so  far.  It  was  a  bold  venture  on  Reccared's  part  to 
go  over  to  the  foreign  church ;  but  he  had  not  mis- 
calculated the  power  of  his  popularity.  Not  only  the 
laity,  but  even  the  clergy,  including  many  bishops, 
speedily  followed  the  king's  example. 

A  great  thing  had  been  accomplished.  The  work 
which  Leovigild  had  begun  —  the  creation  of  the 
modern  Spanish  nation — would  have  remained  un- 
finished if  his  son  had  not  succeeded  in  removing  the 
barrier  of  religious  differences  which  hindered  the 
blending  of  Goths  and  Spaniards   into  one  people. 

The  great  change,  however,  was  not  made  altogether 
without  resistance.  In  Southern  Gaul,  where  Reccared 
was  less  known  than  in  Spain,  the  news  of  his  conver- 
sion excited  a  dangerous  rebellion.    An  Arian  bishop, 

*  The  meaning  of  bigot  in  the  Old  French  was  "  detested  foreigner," 
"heretic,"  and  it  is  supposed  that  the  word  was  a  corruption  of 
Visigoth.  To  the  Catholic  Franks,  of  course,  the  Visigoths  of  Southern 
Gaul  and  Spain  were  the  objects  of  bitter  hatred,  both  on  religious  and 
worldly  grounds. 


Athaloc,  and  two  Gothic  nobles,  put  themselves  at  the 
head  of  the  rebels,  and  called  in  the  help  of  the 
Franks.  But  Reccared's  generals  soon  restored 
order  ;  and  the  people  of  the  province  before  long 
professed  themselves  Catholics.  The  bishop  Athaloc, 
it  was  said,  died  of  vexation  at  the  failure  of  his 
plans.  In  Spain,  also,  there  were  some  insignificant 
conspiracies  prompted  by  Arian  bishops,  but  they 
were  speedily  crushed,  and  their  leaders  punished. 
The  king's  stepmother,  Goiswintha  (the  same  who  is 
said  to  have  treated  Ingunthis  with  such  shameful 
cruelty)  had  professed  herself  a  convert  to  the  Catholic 
Church.  But  in  her  heart  she  hated  the  change,  and 
she  was  detected  in  a  conspiracy  against  the  king's 
life.  Reccared  inflicted  no  punishment  upon  Gois- 
wintha, though  he  banished  her  accomplices  from  the 
kingdom.  But  soon  afterwards  she  died  suddenly, 
and  her  death  was  of  course  regarded  as  a  divine 
judgment  for  her  treason. 

In  May,  589,  Reccared  summoned  to  Toledo  the 
bishops  of  his  kingdom,  to  celebrate  the  victory  of  the 
orthodox  faith,  and  to  devise  laws  for  the  government 
of  the  Church.  Sixty-seven  bishops  presented  them- 
selves in  obedience  to  the  royal  command.  The  king 
addressed  them  on  the  importance  of  the  work  for 
which  they  were  assembled,  and  exhorted  them  to 
spend  three  days  in  prayer  and  fasting  before  begin- 
ning their  deliberations.  When  the  three  days  were 
passed,  and  the  bishops  again  met  in  council,  Reccared 
opened  the  proceedings  with  a  speech,  setting  forth  the 
grounds  of  his  conversion.  It  is  worth  notice  that  he 
honestly  admitted  that  "earthly  motives"  had  had 



their  share  in  opening  his  mind  to  the  arguments 
which  had  led  him  to  the  true  faith.  He  ended  by 
reading  a  formal  statement  of  the  articles  of  his  faith. 
This  document,  after  being  approved  by  the  assembly, 
was  signed  by  the  king,  by  his  queen  Baddo,  and  by 
all  who  were  present.  The  bishops  then  proceeded  to 
draw  up  a  code  of  laws  settling  the  constitution  of  the 
Church  of  Spain. 

The  religious  change  effected  by  Reccared  was  a 
necessity.  But  its  good  results  were  not  unmixed. 
With  the  zeal  of  a  new  convert,  the  king  lavished 
wealth  and  honours  upon  the  Catholic  Church,  and 
allowed  its  clergy  to  attain  a  degree  of  political  power 
that  was  full  of  danger  to  the  State.  It  was  not  long 
before  the  Gothic  kings  learned  the  bad  lesson  of 
persecuting  Jews  and  heretics. 

Reccared  himself,  however,  zealous  though  he  was 
for  his  new  faith,  was  no  persecutor.  He  seems  to 
have  honestly  striven  in  all  things  for  the  welfare  of 
his  subjects,  and  his  reign  was  one  of  great  prosperity. 
He  is  praised  by  historians  as  a  wise  lawgiver,  and 
from  his  time  onwards  all  the  new  laws  that  were 
made  were  declared  binding  alike  on  Goths  and 

One  of  the  great  events  of  Reccared's  reign  was 
the  attempt  of  the  Prankish  king  Guntram  to  conquer 
the  Gothic  domains  in  Gaul.  An  army  of  60,000 
men  entered  the  Narbonnese  province,  and  besieged 
the  city  of  Carcassonne.  Reccared's  general  Claudius 
(a  Roman,  not  a  Gothic  name,  it  is  worth  while  to 
note)  with  a  very  small  force,  inflicted  on  the  invaders 
such   a   crushing  defeat   that   never   again,   while  the 



Gothic  kingdom  lasted,  did  the  Franks  attempt  any 
attack  upon  its  Gaulish  lands.  The  Basques,  who  had 
given  trouble  in  the  earlier  part  of  the  reign,  were 
subdued  ;  and  the  interloping  "  Greeks,"  though  not 
driven  out  of  the  country,  were  compelled  to  confine 
themselves  to  their  fortresses,  so  that  the  last  years  of 
Reccared's  life  were  a  period  of  profound  peace. 

Reccared  died  in  the  year  60 1,  having  in  his  last 
illness  given  proof  of  his  piety  by  making  public  con- 
fession of  his  sins.  The  Goths  honoured  his  memory 
by  electing  to  the  throne  his  youthful  son  Leuva. 



One  short  chapter  will  be  sufficient  for  the  storj' 
of  the  next  seventy  years.  During  that  time  eleven 
kings  reigned  over  the  Visigoths,  but  the  records  of 
their  reigns  are  scanty,  and  contain  few  events  of 
any  great  interest.  The  main  thing  that  strikes  us 
in  reading  the  history  of  this  period  is  the  rapid 
growth  of  the  Church's  influence  in  the  government 
of  the  kingdom. 

Reccared's  }'oung  son  reigned  only  two  years. 
There  was  a  Gothic  noble  named  Witeric,  who  had 
already  in  Reccared's  lifetime  headed  an  unsuccessful 
rebellion,  and  had  obtained  the  king's  generous 
pardon.  This  man,  ungrateful  for  the  mercy  that 
had  been  shown  him,  now  rebelled  against  Leuva, 
and  succeeded  in  getting  himself  acknowledged  king- 
in  his  stead.  The  dethroned  boy-king,  his  right  hand 
having  been  cut  off,  was  thrown  into  prison,  and 
afterwards  put  to  death. 

The  seven  years  of  Witeric's  reign  were  unpros- 
perous,  and  his  rule  was  that  of  a  selfish  tyrant.  It 
is  said  that  he  wished  to  restore  the  Arian  religion  ; 
however  that  may  be,  he  seems  to  have  made  himself 



detested  by  the  clergy,  as  well  as  by  the  nobles  and 
the  people.  In  the  year  6io  he  was  murdered  at  a 
banquet,  and  his  body  was  buried  in  unhallowed 
ground  without  the  rites  of  the  church. 

The  short  reign  of  his  successor,  Gundemar,  con- 
tains no  events  worth  relating ;  but  Sisebut,  who  was 
chosen  king  in  612,  was  a  man  about  whom  we  would 
be  glad  to  know  more.  He  was  a  successful  general, 
and  his  victories  compelled  the  Greeks  to  surrender 
nearly  all  their  possessions  in  Spain.  Like  the 
Gothic  heroes  of  older  days,  Theoderic  and  Totila, 
he  was  distinguished  for  humanity  towards  the  con- 
quered. Many  of  the  Greek  prisoners  had  been  sold 
into  slavery  by  their  Gothic  captors,  and  the  king 


purchased  their  freedom  at  his  own  cost.  He  was 
also  a  scholar,  and  a  generous  patron  of  such  learning 
as  existed  in  Spain  in  his  day.  Unhappily  it  has  to 
be  added  that  he  was  the  first  Gothic  king  who  ever 
persecuted  the  Jews.  "  Baptism  within  one  year,  or 
scourging,  mutilation,  banishment,  and  confiscation  of 
goods  ; "  such  was  the  choice  which  Sisebut  offered 
to  that  unhappy  people.  Thousands  of  Jews  pro- 
fessed to  accept  the  gospel.  But  the  dread  of  perse- 
cution could  not  make  them  Christians  at  heart. 
The  Jews  till  now  had  been  attached  friends  of  the 

THE   FATHER   OF   THE   POOR:'  335 

Goths,  the  forced  conversions  under  Sisebert  changed 
them  into  bitter  enemies.  Those  of  them  who  re- 
ceived baptism  and  attended  Christian  worship  con- 
tinued in  the  secrecy  of  their  homes  to  practise 
Jewish  ritual,  and  to  teach  their  children  to  curse 
their  oppressors.  The  best  men  of  the  Spanish 
Church  felt  that  these  persecutions  were  wrong,  and 
succeeding  kings  did  something  to  lighten  the  bur- 
dens which  Sisebut  had  imposed.  But  the  mischief 
was  irreparable.  The  Jews,  whether  professedly  con- 
verted or  not,  had  become  embittered  against  the 
Goths,  and  when  the  kingdom  was  attacked  by  the 
Moors  they  joyfully  lent  their  aid  to  its  assailants. 

When  Sisebut  died  in  621,  his  general,  Swinthila, 
was  elected  to  the  throne.  According  to  some  writers 
Swinthila  was  a  son  of  Reccared.  He  is  remarkable 
as  being  the  first  king  who  reigned  over  the  whole 
Spanish  peninsula.  The  Greeks  of  the  empire,  whom 
Sisebut  had  confined  to  a  small  strip  of  Spain, 
became  in  Swinthila's  time  subjects  of  the  Gothic 
kingdom,  and  their  soldiers  took  service  in  the  Gothic 
armies  ;  and  the  rebellious  Basques  were  brought  to 
complete  submission.  Swinthila  won  the  affection  of 
the  common  people  among  his  subjects.  The  title 
given  to  him  was  "  the  Father  of  the  Poor,"  but  he 
seems  to  have  aimed  at  limiting  the  power  of  the 
Gothic  nobles  and  the  bishops.  The  discontent  of 
these  two  classes  reached  its  height  when — without 
asking  their  sanction — he  appointed  his  son  Reccimer 
the  partner  of  his  throne.  The  nobles,  led  by  Sise- 
nanth,  rose  in  revolt,  and  obtained  the  help  of  the 
Prankish  king,  Dagobert,  by  promising  to  give  him 



the  most  valued  object  among  the  Gothic  royal 
treasures.  This  was  a  golden  dish  or  table,  weighing 
five  hundred  pounds  and  richly  jewelled,  which  had 
been  given  by  Aetius  to  Thorismund,  king  of  the 
Visigoths,  as  part  of  his  share  of  Attila's  spoils  in 
453.  The  Franks  marched  into  Spain,  and  on  their 
approach  the  Goths  who  had  supported  Swinthila 
abandoned  his  cause,  and  Sisenanth  was  crowned  at 
Saragossa.  The  Prankish  army  then  returned  home, 
and  Dagobert  sent  ambassadors  to  claim  the  price  of 
his  assistance.  Sisenanth  delivered  to  them  the  pre- 
cious object  which  had  been  promised,  but  the  Goths 
were  so  indignant  at  the  thought  of  losing  this  re- 
nowned treasure  that  they  took  it  by  force  from  the 
ambassadors,  and  brought  it  back  in  triumph  to 
Toledo.  Sisenanth  dared  not  oppose  himself  to  the 
will  of  his  people,  and  he  had  to  pay  Dagobert  a 
large  sum  in  compensation. 

The  elevation  of  Sisenanth  was  a  victory  of  the 
power  of  the  nobles  over  that  of  the  king  and  the 
commons.  But  in  the  end  it  led  to  the  supremacy  of 
the  Church  over  all  three.  In  order  to  secure  the 
ecclesiastical  sanction  for  his  usurpation,  the  new 
king  caused  a  council  to  be  held  at  Toledo  in  the 
year  633.  Sixty-nine  bishops  were  present,  either  in 
person  or  by  their  representatives  ;  and  after  they 
had  finished  their  deliberations  on  the  Church  ques- 
tions submitted  to  them,  they  formally  confirmed 
the  right  of  Sisenanth  to  the  throne,  and  declared 
Swinthila  and  all  his  family  incapable  of  holding  any 
office  of  dignity  in  the  State.  The  bishops  then 
decreed  that   in    future,  whenever  a  king   died,   his 


successor  should  be  chosen  by  the  nobles  and  the 
clergy  in  council  ;  and  every  man  who  attempted  to 
rebel  against  the  king  so  chosen  was  declared  liable 
to  be  cut  off  from  the  communion  of  the  Church,  and 
to  be  in  danger  of  eternal  destruction.  The  same 
terrible  penalties  were  threatened  against  any  king 
who  should  endeavour  to  set  aside  the  new  law  of 
election  by  raising  his  son  to  the  royal  dignity  with- 
out the  sanction  of  a  duly  constituted  council.  It 
was  further  enacted  that  henceforward  the  clergy 
should  be  freed  from  all  taxation. 

What  became  of  the  discrowned  Swinthila  and  his 
family  is  not  known.  In  the  fifth  year  of  his  reign 
Sisenanth  died  at  Toledo,  and  Kindila  was  chosen  as 
his  successor.  He  too  was  a  mere  tool  in  the  hands 
of  the  bishops.  The  only  events  of  his  reign  worth 
recording  are  the  decrees  of  the  Church  councils  that 
no  king  should  in  future  be  chosen  who  was  not  of 
noble  Gothic  descent,  or  who  had  assumed  the  dress 
of  a  monk.  It  was  also  ordained  that  every  future 
king  before  his  coronation  should  take  an  oath  to 
tolerate  no  heretics  or  Jews  within  his  realm. 

Kindila  died  in  640,  and  the  assembly  of  bishops 
and  nobles  chose  his  son  Tulga  in  his  stead. 

The  young  Tulga  gave  promise  of  being  just  such 
a  king  as  the  clergy  loved  ;  but  all  the  awful  threats 
of  the  bishops  were  unavailing  to  prevent  a  rebellion 
among  the  Gothic  nobles.  The  leader  of  this  rising, 
Kindaswinth,  succeeded  in  getting  Tulga  into  his 
power,  and  by  clothing  him  in  a  monk's  habit  ren- 
dered him,  according  to  the  law  passed  in  the  last 
reign,  incapable  of  sitting  on  the  throne. 


The  bishops  were  obh'ged  to  submit  to  Kinda- 
swinth's  usurpation.  He  was  a  man  of  great  energy 
and  strength  of  character,  and  his  accession  was 
followed  by  a  reign  of  terror  that  compelled  both 
clergy  and  nobles  to  feel  that  they  had  found  a 
master.  Two  hundred  Goths  of  the  noblest  families 
and  five  hundred  of  lower  rank  were  punished  with 
death  for  conspiring  against  his  throne.  Many  others 
were  banished,  and  their  goods  confiscated,  or  be- 
stowed on  the  king's  faithful  supporters.  The  heads 
of  the  Church  were  wise  enough  to  bow  to  the  storm, 
and  they  sought  to  win  the  king's  favour  by  decreeing 
the  penalty  of  degradation  and  ex-communication 
against  all  priests  who  were  guilty  of  countenancing 
any  conspiracy  against  his  throne.  By  these  mea- 
sures all  opposition  was  crushed,  and  the  kingdom 
was  brought  into  a  state  of  order  and  tranquillity  such- 
as  had  not  been  known  before. 

Strange  to  say,  this  fierce  and  energetic  sovereign 
was  already  nearly  eighty  years  old  when  he  seized 
the  throne.  After  he  had  reigned  seven  years  the 
bishops,  doubtless  at  his  ow^n  secret  suggestion,  pre- 
sented to  him  a  petition  that  he  would  abdicate  in 
favour  of  his  son  Recceswinth,  in  order  to  prevent  the 
tumults  which  might  be  expected  to  arise  at  his 
death.  Kindaswinth  consented  joyfully  to  the  re- 
quest, and  his  son  was  crowned  in  649,  with  the 
assent  of  the  clergy  and  of  the  nobles.  The  aged 
king,  it  is  said,  spent  the  remaining  years  of  his  life 
in  acts  of  piety  and  beneficence,  and  died  in  652  at 
the  age  of  ninety  years. 

Recceswinth  seems  to  have  inherited  much  of  his 


father's  energy  without  any  of  his  harshness.  The 
oath  which  he  had  taken  at  his  coronation  contained 
a  clause  binding  him  never  to  pardon  any  man  who 
conspired  against  his  throne.  One  of  his  first  acts 
after  his  father's  death  was  to  call  an  assembly  of  the 
nobles  and  the  higher  clergy  of  his  kingdom,  and  to 
ask  them  to  release  him  from  this  cruel  promise. 
The  council  decided  that  the  oath  was  no  longer 
binding,  and  enacted  that  the  right  of  pardoning 
rebels  should  be  restored  to  the  king.  Other  im- 
portant laws  for  the  government  of  the  kingdom 
were  passed  by  the  same  assembly  ;  the  most  im- 
portant of  them  was  that  the  property  amassed  by 
a  king  during  his  reign  should  not  descend  to  his 
family,  but  to  the  successor  who  should  be  chosen 
by  the  council  of  nobles  and  prelates. 
•  For  twenty- three  years  Recces winth  governed  his 
people  with  such  success  that  the  kingdom  enjoyed 
unbroken  peace — except  for  a  brief  rebellion  of  the 
Basques,  led  by  a  Gothic  noble  named  Froya.  The 
leader  was  captured  and  put  to  death ;  but  the 
Basques  obtained  redress  of  their  grievances,  and 
were  thenceforward  content  to  accept  the  rule  of  the 
Gothic  king. 

But  the  great  reason  for  which  Recceswinth  de- 
serves to  be  remembered  is  that  he  carried  a  step 
further  the  work  begun  by  Leovigild  and  Reccared, 
of  blending  Goths  and  Spaniards  into  one  nation. 
Till  his  time  intermarriage  between  the  two  peoples 
was  forbidden  by  law.  Recceswinth  abolished  the 
prohibition  ;  and,  following  in  his  father's  footsteps, 
he   forbade,  under   heavy  penalties,  the   use   of  the 





Roman  law  in  his  dominions.  Henceforward  Goths 
and  Romans  alike  were  to  be  judged  according  to  the 
law-book  of  the  Visigoths. 

In  the  year  672  Recceswinth  died,  deeply  lamented 
by  his  people.  In  the  history  of  the  Visigoths  a 
reign  of  twenty-three  years  of  peace  had  never  been 
before,  and  it  was  not  destined  ever  to  be  again. 


.    XXXIII. 


The  history  of  King  Wamba  has  often  been  told 
with  many  fabulous  embellishments  ;  but  the  simple 
facts,  as  they  are  admitted  by  sober  historians,  and 
as  we  shall  here  try  to  set  them  forth,  are  themselves 
not  altogether  wanting  in  the  elements  of  romance. 

Round  the  bed  on  which  the  dead  Recceswinth  lay, 
in  the  castle  of  Gerticos,  the  nobles  and  prelates  of 
the  Gothic  state  were  assembled  for  the  purpose  of 
choosing  his  successor.  Notwithstanding  the  long 
period  of  calm  which  the  kingdom  had  enjoyed,  signs 
of  coming  trouble  were  plainly  visible  ;  and  all 
present  felt  that  there  was  only  one  man  qualified 
to  guide  the  State  through  the  perilous  times  that 
were  at  hand.  With  one  voice  they  declared  their 
choice  of  Wamba  as  king  of  the  Goths. 

At  first  Wamba  stoutly  refused  to  accept  the  crown, 
pleading  that  he  was  an  old  man,  and  that  the  burden 
of  the  kingly  oflfice  was  more  than  he  could  bear. 
His  fellow  nobles  and  the  bishops  expostulated  with 
him  long  and  earnestly,  but  he  continued  to  urge 
them  to  choose  some  younger  man,  who  would  be 
equal  to  the  arduous  labours  which  the  nation  required 


of  its  king.  At  length  one  of  the  officers  of  the  royal 
household  exclaimed,  brandishing  his  spear,  "  Wamba, 
thou  shalt  never  leave  this  chamber  save  as  a  dead 
man  or  as  a  king !  "  The  Goths  echoed  the  words, 
and  Wamba  consented  to  accept  the  greatness  thus 
strangely  thrust  upon  him. 

On  the  nineteenth  day  after  Recceswinth's  death, 
Wamba  was  crowned  at  Toledo.  Throughout  the 
whole  of  Spain  the  event  was  received  with  unbounded 
rejoicing ;  but  the  old  jealousy  between  the  two  por- 
tions of  the  kingdom  showed  itself  once  more,  and 
before  Wamba  had  been  many  weeks  king  he  received 
the  news  that  the  Gothic  province  of  Gaul  was  in  open 

The  leader  of  the  rebels  was  a  Gothic  noble  named 
Hilderic,  Governor  of  Nimes,  who  bad  himself  as- 
pired to  be  chosen  king  of  the  Goths.  He  was 
supported  by  Gunhild,  Bishop  of  Maguelonne,  and 
the  army  which  he  collected  was  strengthened  by  a 
large  body  of  Jews  who  had  fled  from  persecution  in 
Spain,  and  were  glad  of  the  opportunity  to  fight 
against  their  oppressors.  The  Bishop  of  Nimes,  who 
protested  against  Hilderic's  conduct,  was  loaded  with 
chains,  and  his  bishopric  bestowed  on  an  abbot  named 
Ranimer,  who  had  supported  the  party  of  the  rebels. 

The  general  whom  Wamba  sent  against  the  Gaulish 
rebels  was  a  cunning  and  unprincipled  Greek  named 
Paul.  As  soon  as  he  arrived  at  Narbonne,  he  called 
the  officers  of  the  army  together,  and  after  having 
harangued  them  on  the  grievances  they  had  to  suffer 
from  the  ruling  party  in  Spain,  he  called  upon  them 
to  renounce  their  allegiance  to  an  imbecile  old  man, 

344  ^^^   STORY  OF   WAMBA. 

who  knowing  his  own  weakness  had  shrunk  from 
accepting  the  kingship  until  he  was  compelled  to  do 
so  by  those  who  aimed  to  use  him  as  their  tool.  The 
speech  produced  its  desired  effect,  and  when  one  of 
the  general's  accomplices  proposed  that  the  army 
should  elect  Paul  king  of  the  Goths,  the  whole  as- 
sembly answered  with  applause.  The  decision  of  the 
officers  was  approved  by  the  army  ;  Hilderic  and  his 
followers  joined  themselves  to  the  usurper's  party ; 
and  after  a  few  weeks  Paul  was  crowned  at  Narbonne, 
with  a  golden  crown  that  Reccared  had  presented  to 
the  church  of  Gerona. 

Wamba  was  at  this  time  in  the  Western  Pyrenees, 
fighting  with  the  Basques,  whom  Paul's  emissaries 
had  incited  to  rebellion.  The  news  was  brought  to 
him  that  his  treacherous  general  was  accepted  as  king 
by  the  Gaulish  cities  and  by  a  large  portion  of  North- 
eastern Spain.  A  council  of  war  was  called  ;  some 
of  the  officers  recommended  a  return  to  Toledo  in 
order  to  seek  reinforcements  ;  others  wished  to  hasten 
at  once  to  the  encounter  with  Paul.  Wamba's  de- 
cision was  that  the  subjugation  of  the  Basques  must 
first  be  complete,  and  that  then  the  march  on  Nar- 
bonne should  be  prosecuted  without  a  moment's 
delay.  We  are  told — perhaps  this  is  an  exaggeration 
— that  the  Basques  were  reduced  to  entire  submission 
in  one  week.  Then  Wamba  led  his  forces  into  the 
revolted  province  of  Spain,  and  in  a  few  days  all  the 
cities  had  opened  their  gates  or  had  been  taken  by 
storm.  Two  of  the  rebel  leaders  fell  into  Wamba's 
hands  at  Clausurse,  and  were  sent  in  chains  to  Toledo ; 
a  third,  Wittimer,  escaped  to  Narbonne,  to  give  warn- 


ing  of  the  approach  of  the  Gothic  army.  When  Paul 
heard  that  Wamba  was  on  the  way  to  Narbonne,  he  re- 
tired to  Nimes,  leaving  Narbonne  in  Wittimer's  charge. 

Soon  afterwards  Wamba  arrived  before  the  walls  of 
the  city,  and  invited  Wittimer  to  surrender,  promising 
that  if  he  and  his  comrades  would  surrender  they 
should  suffer  no  harm.  The  proposal  was  scornfully 
refused,  and  after  a  terrible  struggle  the  city  was  taken 
by  assault.  Wittimer  took  refuge  behind  the  altar  of 
the  Virgin,  till  a  soldier  threatened  to  crush  him  with  a 
huge  stone  slab.  Then  he  yielded  himself  up  ;  and 
he  and  his  companions,  loaded  with  chains,  were 
flogged  through  the  streets  of  Narbonne. 

Wamba  then  sent  a  body  of  thirty  thousand  men 
to  attack  Nimes,  while  he  occupied  himself  with  the 
capture  of  the  smaller  cities.  Paul's  garrison  made 
a  vigorous  defence,  and  after  a  whole  day's  fighting 
the  Goths  were  obliged  to  send  to  Wamba  for  more 
troops.  The  next  morning  ten  thousand  more  men 
arrived,  and  the  attack  began  again.  Paul  tried  to 
persuade  his  men  to  risk  a  battle  outside  the  walls, 
saying  that  the  Goths  had  become  slothful  and 
cowardly,  having  enjoyed  so  many  years  of  peace, 
and  that  if  once  they  were  met  boldly  they  would 
soon  take  to  flight.  But  his  eloquence  was  in  vain, 
and  when  the  assault  began  it  was  soon  perceived 
that  the  Goths  were  anything  but  cowards.  Paul 
was  assailed  with  bitter  reproaches  for  his  folly  in 
making  light  of  the  enemy's  prowess.  After  five  hours' 
hard  fighting  the  gates  were  burst  open,  and  the 
troops  of  Wamba  rushed  into  the  city,  slaughtering 
all  that  came  in  their  way. 




Paul  and  what  remained  of  his  army  and  the 
citizens  took  shelter  in  the  great  Roman  amphitheatre, 
the  splendid  ruins  of  which  are  still  the  chief  sight  at 
Nimes.  They  converted  the  building  into  a  temporary 
fortress.  It  was  easily  defended,  but  there  had  been 
no  time  for  provisioning  it,  and  the  people,  pressed 
by  hunger,  broke  out  into  mutiny.  One  of  Paul's 
own  relatives  was  seized  by  the  crowd  and  murdered 
before  the  commander's  own  eyes,  and  in  spite  of  his 
commands  and  entreaties.  When  Paul  saw  that  he 
was  no  longer  obeyed  as  a  king,  he  tore  off  his  royal 
robes,  and  flung  them  aside  in  the  sight  of  all  the 

On  the  third  day  (September  3,  673)  the  inhabitants, 
feeling  that  further  resistance  was  hopeless,  sent  their 
bishop  Argabad  to  plead  for  mercy  with  Wamba. 
The  king  promised  that  no  blood  should  be  shed,  but 
he  kept  himself  free  to  inflict  any  other  punishments 
on  the  rebels.  Officers  were  sent  into  the  city  to 
restore  order,  and  to  arrest  the  ringleaders  of  the 
rebellion.  Paul  was  dragged  by  the  hair  of  the  head 
between  two  horsemen,  and  brought  into  the  king's 
camp.  He  threw  himself  at  Wamba's  feet,  and  with 
tears  and  abject  professions  of  repentance  entreated 
the  king  to  have  mercy  on  him.  Wamba  scornfully 
assured  him  that  his  life  should  be  spared. 

On  the  third  day  after  the  victory  Paul  and  the 
other  rebels  were  brought  up  for  trial  before  a  court 
composed  of  the  king  and  the  great  officers  of  the 
realm.  They  confessed  their  guilt,  and  the  tribunal 
sentenced  them  to  death  and  to  forfeiture  of  their 
property.     The  king,  however,  refused    to  break  his 

348  THE    STORY   OF   WAMBA. 

promise,  and  ordered  that  their  punishment  should  be 
scalping  and  imprisonment  for  life. 

After  restoring  peace  and  settled  government  in 
the  Gaulish  province,  Wamba  returned  to  Toledo, 
which  he  entered  in  triumph  like  an  ancient  Roman 
conqueror,  followed  by  a  long  procession  of  his 
captives  with  shaven  heads  and  bare  feet.  Paul  was 
adorned  in  mockery  with  a  crown  of  leather,  fastened 
on  his  head  with  melted  pitch. 

The  next  seven  years  of  Wamba's  reign  were  peace- 
ful and  prosperous.  He  ruled  firmly  and  wisely,  and 
though  no  enemy  of  the  Church,  he  knew  how  to  keep 
the  priesthood  duly  in  check.  He  even  made  a  law 
that  in  time  of  war  the  clergy  of  all  ranks  should  be 
bound  like  other  citizens  to  take  up  arms  for  the 
defence  of  the  country.  Wamba  also  decreed  that 
free  birth  should  no  longer  be  a  condition  of  serving 
in  the  army.  Gothic  warriors  of  the  olden  time 
would  have  scorned  to  fight  in  the  same  ranks  with 
slaves ;  but  the  warlike  spirit  of  the  nation  was  de- 
caying, and  military  service  was  now  looked  upon  as 
an  evil  necessity,  to  be  avoided  if  possible. 

The  events  which  brought  Wamba's  reign  to  an 
end  are  strange  indeed.  On  October  14,  680,  he  fell 
into  a  stupor,  and  continued  insensible  for  many 
hours.  The  physicians  declared  that  he  was  dying, 
and  after  the  custom  of  those  days  he  was  clothed  in 
a  monk's  robe,  and  his  head  was  shaven  ;  for  it  was 
believed  that  those  who  died  in  the  dress  of  a  religious 
order  were  sure  to  obtain  salvation  in  the  next  world. 
After  twenty-four  hours  Wamba  recovered  conscious- 
ness ;  but  when  he  knew  what  had  been  done,  he 


recognized  that  according  to  Gothic  law  the  fact  that 
he  had  worn  a  monk's  robe  disquaHfied  him  from 
ruHng  any  longer.  So,  in  the  presence  of  the  great 
officers  of  the  kingdom,  he  signed  a  document  de- 
claring that  he  abdicated  the  throne,  and  appointing 
a  certain  Erwig  as  his  successor.  It  was  afterwards 
believed  that  Wamba's  mysterious  trance  was  caused 
by  a  sleeping  draught  given  to  him  by  Erwig  If  so, 
the  nobles  of  the  court  must  have  been  sharers  in  the 
conspiracy.  Although  it  was  quite  contrary  to  Gothic 
law  that  a  king  should  name  his  successor,  neither 
the  nobles  nor  the  people  offered  any  protest.  Erwig 
was  anointed  and  crowned  by  the  Archbishop  of 
Toledo,  and  Wamba  retired  into  a  monastery,  and 
there  spent  the  remainder  of  his  life. 



Wamba  is  the  last  great  man,  and  his  victories  the 
last  brilliant  exploits,  that  appear  in  Gothic  history. 
His  fiery  energy  had  for  a  moment  seemed  to  inspire 
the  state  with  new  life  ;  but  the  decay  of  national 
spirit  had  gone  too  far  to  be  arrested.  The  Visigoths 
had  exchanged  their  old  free  constitution  for  a  des- 
potism controlled  by  bigoted  prelates :  the  poorer 
freemen  had  almost  all  sunk  into  slavery,  and  had 
naturally  lost  their  interest  in  the  welfare  of  the  king- 
dom; the  nobles,  corrupted  by  long  peace  and  fancied 
security,  were  sunk  in  idleness  and  vice.  Hencefor- 
ward our  story  tells  only  of  "  ruin  and  the  breaking 
up  of  laws,"  which  went  on  unchecked  till  the  day 
when  the  kingdom  was  crushed  like  a  hollow  shell  in 
the  hands  of  the  Saracen  invader. 

The  accession  of  Erwig  to  the  throne  was  not  only 
illegal  because  he  had  not  been  regularly  chosen  ;  it 
was  also  a  breach  of  the  law  which  provided  that  the 
king  should  always  be  of  pure  Gothic  blood.  His 
mother,  indeed,  was  a  Gothic  princess,  a  cousin  of 
King  Kindaswinth ;  but  his  father  was  a  Greek  of 
Persian    origin,    named    Artabazes,    who    had    been 


banished  from  Constantinople,  and  had  found  a  home 
in  Spain.  Erwig  seems  to  have  had  all  the  cunning 
and  the  love  of  intrigue  with  which  the  Greeks  were 
so  often  charged.  He  had,  however,  but  little  courage 
or  force  of  character,  and  throughout  his  reign  was 
little  more  than  a  puppet  in  the  hands  of  his  chief 
counsellor,  the  fierce  and  unscrupulous  Julian  (after- 
wards called  Saint  Julian)  the  Archbishop  of  Toledo. 
This  archbishop  was  one  of  the  most  remarkable 
figures  of  his  time.  It  is  to  him  that  we  owe  our 
knowledge  of  the  history  of  Wamba's  campaign 
against  Paul  ;  and  his  book  on  this  subject  is  perhaps 
the  most  brilliant  literary  work  of  the  seventh  cen- 
tury. Its  savage  exultation  over  the  fallen  foe,  more 
befitting  a  warrior  than  a  churchman,  is  in  accord 
with  all  that  we  know  of  the  writer's  character.  After 
having  in  this  book  extolled  Wamba  to  the  skies  as  a 
pattern  of  a  hero  and  a  Christian,  he  quarrelled  with 
him,  and  he  is  supposed  to  have  been  the  chief  inspirer 
of  the  conspiracy  against  him.  Himself  of  Jewish 
origin,  he  was  the  most  cruel  persecutor  of  the  Jews, 
and  the  tyrant  of  both  Church  and  people. 

To  prevent  any  reaction  in  favour  of  Wamba, 
Erwig  and  Julian  caused  the'  council  of  bishops  and 
nobles  to  publish  again  the  law  which  disqualified 
from  high  office  in  the  State  all  who  had  ever  worn  a 
monastic  dress.  The  words  in  which  this  decree  was 
expressed  are  significant  indeed.  "There  are  some 
persons  who,  having  been  clothed  in  the  garments  of 
penitence  when  in  peril  of  death,  and  having  after- 
wards recovered,  have  the  audacity  to  claim  that  their 
vow  is  not  binding,  because  it  was  taken  by  them  in 


a  state  of  unconsciousness.  Let  all  such  reflect  that 
children  are  baptised  without  their  will  or  knowledge, 
yet  no  man  can  renounce  his  baptism  without  in- 
curring eternal  damnation.  As  it  is  with  baptism,  so 
it  is  with  the  monastic  vow ;  and  we  declare  that  all 
who  violate  it  are  worthy  of  the  severest  punishment, 
and  are  incapable  of  holding  any  civil  dignity."  It 
would  have  been  more  honest  if  the  fathers  had  simply 
declared  that  Wamba  had  forfeited  the  throne. 

Erwig's  acts  as  a  lawgiver  consisted  chiefly  in  un- 
doing what  Wamba  had  done  to  strengthen  the  totter- 
ing state.  The  penalties  imposed  on  those  who 
shirked  military  service  were  relaxed  ;  the  clergy 
were  no  longer  required  to  take  their  part  in  the  de- 
fence of  the  kingdom  ;  those  who  had  been  guilty  of 
rebellion  in  former  reigns  were  restored  to  their  for- 
feited dignities  and  estates  ;  and  all  the  arrears  of 
taxes  owing  at  the  end  of  Erwig's  first  year  were 
cancelled.  The  unfortunate  Jews,  whose  misery  had 
been  in  some  small  degree  lightened  in  Wamba's 
reign,  were  now  persecuted  more  fiercely  than  ever  at 
the  instigation  of  an  archbishop  sprung  of  their  own 

In  order  to  prevent  any  rebellion  on  behalf  jf 
Wamba's  family,  Erwig  appointed  as  his  successor 
the  late  king's  nephew,  Egica,  and  gave  him  his 
daughter  in  marriage,  making  him  take  an  oath  that 
when  he  came  to  the  throne  he  would  protect  his 
mother-in-law  and  all  the  royal  family  in  the  pos- 
session of  all  their  property.  In  the  year  6Sy  the 
land  was  desolated  by  a  great  famine,  which  Erwig's 
guilty  conscience  regarded  as  God's  vengeance  for  his 

A    CASE   OF   CONSCIENCE.  353 

crimes.  He  took  to  his  bed,  and  soon  afterwards  re- 
tired to  a  monastery,  where  he  died  in  November  of 
the  same  year. 

One  of  the  first  acts  of  Egica  after  he  was  anointed 
king  was  to  call  a  council  of  bishops  and  nobles  for 
the  settlement  of  questions  relating  to  the  govern- 
ment. When  the  council  was  assembled  the  king 
presented  himself  in  the  chamber,  and  kneeling  on 
the  floor,  implored  the  prayers  of  the  bishops  on  his 
behalf  He  then  retired,  after  handing  to  the  presi- 
dent a  document  in  which  was  stated  a  question  of 
conscience  which  he  desired  the  fathers  to  resolve. 

The  question  proposed  was  the  following:  "When 
I  married  King  Erwig's  daughter  he  compelled  me 
to  swear  that  I  would  always  protect  his  widow  and 
children  in  the  enjoyment  of  their  possessions.  But 
when  I  was  anointed  king  I  took  an  oath  to  exercise 
equal  justice  towards  all  my  subjects.  It  is  im- 
possible for  me  to  keep  both  these  oaths,  for  much  of 
the  wealth  that  Erwig  left  behind  him  was  gained  by 
extortion.  In  order  to  secure  his  throne  Erwig  re- 
duced many  nobles  to  slavery,  and  seized  their  pro- 
perty. They  or  their  heirs  now  demand  restitution. 
My  coronation  oath  commands  me  to  grant  their  just 
claims  ;  the  oath  I  took  to  Erwig  forbids.  I  pray 
you,  reverend  fathers,  to  tell  me  what  my  duty  is  to 

The  bishops  had  not  much  difficulty  in  deciding. 
The  promise  made  to  the  nation,  they  said,  out- 
weighed all  merely  private  engagements.  They 
added,  very  ingeniously,  that  as  Erwig  by  appointing 
Egica  his  successor,  had  been  the  cause  of  his  taking 


the  second  oath,  he  had  thereby  released  him  from  his 
former  obligations  inconsistent  with  it.  In  this  way 
P2gica  succeeded  in  defeating  his  predecessor's  care- 
fully devised  schemes  for  the  interests  of  his  family. 

The  same  council  had  another  piece  of  business  to 
dispose  of  One  of  the  theological  works  of  their 
president,  the  Archbishop  Julian,  had  been  blamed 
by  the  pope  as  not  quite  orthodox.  Julian  was  not 
the  man  to  receive  correction  meekly,  and  at  his 
prompting  the  bishops  prepared  a  reply,  defending 
Julian's  book,  and  even  hinting  that  the  Holy  Father 
must  have  read  it  carelessly.  They  gained  their  cause : 
the  new  pope  withdrew  his  predecessor's  censure. 

Two  years  after  this  triumph  the  haughty  tyrant  of 
the  Spanish  Church  died,  and  was  succeeded  in  the 
archbishopric  by  a  Goth  of  noble  birth,  named  Sise- 
bert.  Before  his  elevation  Sisebert  had  made  a  great 
display  of  austere  piety,  but  when  the  object  of  his 
ambition  was  attained  he  threw  off  the  mask,  and 
lived  an  openly  profane  and  immoral  life.  What 
seems  to  have  shocked  his  contemporaries  more  than 
anything  else  in  his  conduct  was  that  he  ventured  to 
clothe  himself  in  the  "  holy  robe,"  which  was  said  to 
have  been  given  to  Saint  Hildifuns  by  the  Virgin 
Mary,  and  also  to  ascend  the  pulpit  on  which  the  Vir- 
gin had  been  seen  to  stand,  and  which  had  never 
since  been  profaned  by  human  foot. 

Archbishop  Sisebert  was  desirous  of  succeeding  to 
the  same  power  in  the  state  that  had  been  enjoyed  by 
Julian  ;  but  Egica  was  a  man  of  stronger  mould  than 
Erwig,  and  the  prelate  found  himself  overmatched. 
He  then  formed  a  conspiracy,  in  which  several  of  the 


great  nobles  were  involved,  to  murder  the  king,  his 
family,  and  several  of  his  faithful  supporters.  The 
plot  was  discovered,  and  Sisebert  was  condemned — not 
to  death,  for  the  crimes  of  the  clergy  were  always 
more  lightly  punished  in  Spain  than  those  of  other 
men,  but  to  banishment,  excommunication,  and  the 
forfeiture  of  all  his  property. 

In  the  year  694  the  Government  was  thrown  into 
the  wildest  panic  by  the  discovery  of  another  plot,  in 
which  nearly  all  the  Jews  of  the  kingdom  were  sup- 
posed to  be  concerned.  It  is  no  wonder  that  they 
conspired.  In  the  midst  of  their  own  miseries — 
though  Egica  had  somewhat  relaxed  the  persecuting 
laws — they  heard  from  the  people  of  their  own  race 
and  faith  in  Africa  that  under  the  Saracen  rule  the 
Jews  were  protected  and  honoured.  Who  can  blame 
them  if  they  intrigued  with  their  kinsmen  in  Africa  to 
bring  about  a  Saracen  invasion  of  Spain  ? 

The  numbers  and  wealth  of  the  Spanish  Jews  were 
even  yet  large  enough  to  render  them  dangerous  ene- 
mies of  the  kingdom  ;  and  besides  those  who  pro- 
fessed Judaism  there  were  thousands  more  whose 
families  had  for  generations  been  accounted  Christian, 
but  who  in  secret  cherished  their  ancestral  religion, 
and  the  bitterest  hatred  of  the  Gothic  oppressors. 
The  king  and  the  bishops,  when  tlie  treason  of  the 
Jews  was  revealed,  resolved  upon  nothing  less  than 
the  entire  uprooting  of  the  Jewish  faith.  It  was 
enacted  that  all  the  grown-up  Jews  should  be  sold  as 
slaves  to  Christians,  as  far  off  as  possible  from  their 
original  place  of  abode ;  and  the  children  at  six 
years  of  age  were  to  be  taken  from  their  parents,  to 


be  educated  in  the  Christian  religion,  and  to  be 
married  to  Christians  when  they  were  old  enough. 
The  masters  to  whom  the  Jews  were  given  were 
strictly  forbidden  ever  to  grant  them  their  liberty 
unless  they  underwent  baptism. 

Xo  one  now  will  doubt  the  folly  any  more  than  the 
wickedness  of  these  savage  proposals.  Of  course  they 
could  not  be  carried  out ;  but  enough  was  done  to 
make  the  most  peacably  disposed  Jew  in  the  kingdom 
the  deadly  foe  of  the  Gothic  power.  Little  as  we 
know  of  the  history  of  the  conflict  of  the  Goths  with 
the  Saracens,  there  is  proof  enough  that  the  help  of  I 
the  Jews  contributed  not  a  little  to  the  victory  of  the 

Three  years  after  the  date  of  this  council  Egica 
raised  his  son  Witica  to  be  the  sharer  of  his  throne  ; 
and  in  701  he  died,  leaving  Witica  sole  ruler. 

Although  Witica  reigned  nine  years,  we  know 
strangely  little  about  him.  Later  writers  have  de- 
lighted to  represent  him  as  a  monster  of  wickedness  ; 
but  all  that  is  recorded  of  him  on  good  authority  is 
greatly  to  his  honour.  He  pardoned  and  restored  to 
their  rank  and  estates  those  whom  his  father  had 
banished  or  degraded.  There  were  many  other 
wealthy  persons  whom  Egica  had  compelled  to  sign 
documents,  acknowledging  themselves  debtors  to  the 
treasury ;  Witica  caused  these  papers  to  be  publicly 
burnt  It  seems  that  he  tried  to  reform  the  corrup- 
tions of  the  Church.  A  writer  belonging  to  the 
priestly  party  complains  that  Sindered,  the  Arch- 
bishop of  Toledo,  "  inspired  with  a  zeal  for  holiness, 
but  not  according  to  knowledge,"  obeyed  the  king's 

DEATH  OF  irrr/ci.  357 

.-^riers  by  oonthiiiauly  harassing  and  pcfsecutiii^  men 

. :"  h>h  standi!^  amoi^st  the  cfci^.      It  is  likdy 

e'     \;      :  ~  :  di  the  statements  cannot  be  traced  back 

nth  oentniT^  diat  he  encouraged  the 

r,  and  tiiat  he  shoved  some  d^ree  of 

- — at  any  rate,  that  he  did  not  try 

sane  persecutii^  laws  passed 

in  iiis  i«u<ef  s  tiiiie.     A^KJgether  Wltka  seems  to  have 

made  him? :  '  :he  people,  and  hated  and 

feared  l^^"  :  ^t  is  easy  to  understand 

why  in  late;  ^.  -  . .       -i  of  all  sorts  of  dreadlal 

dimes.     The  sodden  ruin  of  die  kii^dom  in  the  first 

year  of  his  soooessor  could  only  be  accounted  lor  fay 

ascribii^  it  to  divine  \^»^(eance;  and  Wittca  was 

suj^x»ed    to   have    been  die  great    sinner   whe^e 

wid^edn^s  had  drawn  down  die  wradi  of  Heaven 

upon  the  unhaj^y  natioiu 

Wltica  died  in  February,  ji<x,  leaving  two  sons 
not  \^et  come  to  the  age  of  manhood  It  seems  diat 
he  had  named  one  of  diese  boys  as  his  sucoesscHr  in 
the  kii^dom,  but  the  council  of  nobles  and  prelates 
set  aside  his  wishes,  and  dected  to  the  dirone  a  cer- 
:.^n  Roderic;  a  Gothic  noble  who  had  hdd  the  chief 
command  of  the  armv. 



Every  one  has  heard  of  "  Roderic,  the  last  of  the 
Goths  ; "  but  of  the  real  history  of  this  famous  king 
we  know  scarcely  anything  for  certain.  The  romantic 
story  of  which  he  is  the  hero  is  the  invention  of 
chroniclers  who  lived  many  centuries  after  his  death. 
But  we  ought  not  to  pass  over  in  silence  a  story 
which  Scott  and  Southey  in  England,  and  many  a 
poet  in  other  lands,  have  taken  as  the  theme  of  their 

According  to  this  legend,  Roderic  was  the  son  of 
Theudefrid,  a  grandson  of  King  Kindaswinth,  and 
one  of  the  many  victims  of  Witica's  tyranny.  The 
cruel  king  had  put  out  his  eyes,  and  thrown  him 
into  prison,  where  he  died.  To  revenge  his  father's 
fate,  Roderic  raised  a  rebellion,  seized  the  person  of 
Witica,  and  having  first  blinded  him,  put  him  to 
death.  Roderic  was  then  crowned  king  ;  but  Witica's 
two  sons  bided  their  time  to  avenge  their  father  and 
to  attempt  to  regain  their  inheritance. 

Their  opportunity  might  have  been  long  in  coming 
if  Roderic  had  not  made  a  more  powerful  enemy  in 
Count  Julian,  who  in  the  late  king's  reign  had  dis- 
tinguished himself  by  a  brave  defence  of  Ceuta,  the 


one  Gothic  fortress  in  Africa  that  had  not  fallen 
into  the  hands  of  the  Saracens.  Julian,  although 
a  kinsman  of  Witica's,  had  quietly  accepted  Roderic's 
usurpation,  and  had  continued  to  fight  bravely  and 
successfully  against  the  Moors.  But  when  he  heard 
that  the  new  king  had  dishonoured  his  daughter, 
the  beautiful  Florinda,  he  resolved  to  revenge  his 
own  wrongs  by  the  betrayal  of  his  country.  He 
sought  an  interview  with  the  Mohammedan  chief, 
Musa,  and  counselled  him  to  undertake  the  conquest 
of  Spain.  The  success  of  the  undertaking,  he  said, 
only  too  truly,  was  certain,  for  the  Goths  as  well  as 
the  Spaniards  hated  the  usurper,  and  would  desert 
his  standards  when  the  conflict  came. 

Musa  needed  little  persuasion.  A  body  of  twelve 
thousand  men,  led  by  a  Berber  chief  named  Tarik, 
and  accompanied  by  Julian  and  the  Goths  who 
followed  him  in  his  treason,  set  sail  from  the  African 
coast,  and  landed  at  the  place  since  called  "  the 
mountain  of  Tarik"  (Jebel  Tarik,  Gibraltar). 

The  Gothic  governor  of  the  southern  province,Theu- 
demer,  was  taken  by  surprise,  and  wrote  to  Roderic 
for  aid.  The  king,  who  was  then  fighting  the  re- 
bellious Basques  in  the  Pyrenees,  broke  up  his  camp, 
and  hastened  southwards,  summoning  his  army  from 
all  parts  oi  the  country  to  meet  him  at  Cordova. 
A  hundred  thousand  men — so  runs  the  story — as- 
sembled under  his  banner  ;  but  among  this  great 
host  there  were  few  who  were  loyal  to  his  crown. 
The  Gothic  nobles  who  had  reluctantly  submitted 
to  his  rule  now  said  among  themselves,  "  Why 
should  we  risk  our  lives  in  the  defence  of  the  usurper? 

360  THE   FALL    OF   THE    VISIGOTHS. 

The  Moors  are  only  in  quest  of  plunder  ;  when 
Roderic  is  beaten  they  will  go  home  with  their  booty, 
and  then  we  can  give  the  throne  to  whom  we  will." 
But  Roderic  thought  that  now  the  country  was 
threatened  by  an  infidel  foe  his  rivals  would  lay 
aside  their  selfish  aims,  and  unite  against  the  com- 
mon danger.  In  this  confidence  he  entrusted  the 
command  of  the  two  wings  of  his  army  to  the  sons 
of  Witica. 

The  great  battle  took  place  near  Xeres  de  la 
Frontera,  ten  miles  north  of  Cadiz,  beside  the  river 
Chrysus,  now  called  the  Guadalete.  Roderic  ap- 
peared on  the  field  clothed  in  a  purple  robe  and 
wearing  a  jewelled  crown.  His  chariot  of  ivory  was 
drawn  by  eight  milk-white  steeds.  It  was  not  until 
after  several  days'  fighting  that  the  sons  of  Witica 
offered  their  aid  to  the  enemy.  Tarik  agreed  to 
their  conditions,  and  the  battle  ended,  on  July  26, 
711,  in  the  utter  rout  of  Roderic's  supporters.  As 
to  the  fate  of  Roderic  himself  there  are  three  dif- 
ferent stories.  Some  say  that  he  was  slain  by  Tarik's 
own  hand  ;  others  that  he  was  drowned  in  attempting 
to  cross  the  river,  and  that  long  afterwards  his  golden 
shoes,  and  his  horse  Orelio,  were  found  in  the  mud 
of  the  stream.  The  third  legend  is  like  that  which 
was  afterwards  told  of  Harold  of  England — how  the 
defeated  and  wounded  king  escaped  from  the  battle- 
field, and  lived  for  many  years  in  a  hermitage  under 
a  feigned  name,  devoting  himself  to  prayer  and  to 
self-mortification  in  atonement  for  his  sins.  It  is 
this  last  version  that  Southey  has  used  in  his  poem  of 
"  Roderick,  the  Last  of  the  Goths." 




Such  is  the  story  of  Roderic,  as  it  is  told  by 
Spanish  and  Arabic  writers  of  the  thirteenth  and 
later  centuries.  Perhaps  it  may  contain  fragments 
of  true  history  here  and  there  ;  but  what  we  really 
know  of  Roderic's  reign  is  little  more  than  this,  that 
his  defeat  on  the  Guadalete  was  the  e«d  -of  the^ 
Gothic  kingdom  of  Spain.  Almost  unresisted,  the 
conquerors  spread  over  the  land,  taking  possession 
of  city  after  city,  until  "  the  green  flag  of  the  Prophet 
waved  from  the  towers  of  the  royal  palace  of 



The  Visigoths  were  never  driven  out  of  Spain  as 
the  Ostrogoths  were  driven  out  of  Italy.  They  re- 
mained to  become,  like  the  older  inhabitants  of  the 
country,  subjects  of  the  Moors.  Under  the  Mo- 
hammedan dominion  the  two  Christian  peoples, 
drawn  together  by  their  common  hatred  of  the  infidel, 
and  by  their  common  aspirations  after  freedom, 
became  finally  one  nation.  The  story  of  the  Goths 
merges  now  into  the  story  of  Spain. 

Yet  even  through  the  seven  centuries  of  Moorish 
dominion  the  descendants  of  the  native  Spaniards 
continued  to  look  up  to  the  descendants  of  the  Goths 
as  to  their  natural  leaders  and  chiefs.  After  the 
battle  on  the  Guadalete  the  Goth  Theudemer,  the 
former  viceroy  of  Southern  Spain  under  Roderic, 
betook  himself  with  a  small  band  of  men  to  the 
eastern  coast,  and  there  defended  himself  so  valiantly 
that  the  conquerors  allowed  him  to  establish  a  tribu- 
tary Christian  kingdom  in  Murcia,  where  he  reigned 
until  his  death.  Afterwards  the  Moors  broke  the 
treaty  which  they  had  made  with  him,  and  the  "  land 
of  Theudemer,"  as  the  Arabic  writers  call  it,  was 
joined  to  the  Mohammedan  dominions.     In  the  far 

GOTHS   IN    THE   CRIMEA.  363 

north-west,  the  Christians  of  the  Asturias  maintained 
their  independence  under  a  succession  of  Gothic 
chiefs,  to  whom  the  later  kings  of  Spain  were  proud 
to  trace  their  ancestry.  In  all  the  uprisings  of  the 
Christians  against  the  Moors,  and  in  the  last  great 
struggle  which  ended  in  the  overthrow  of  the  infidel 
rule,  men  with  Gothic  names  appear  as  leaders  and 
champions.  But  for  the  Gothic  element  in  the 
Spanish  people  the  chivalry  of  Castile  would  never 
have  been,  and  Spain  might  even  yet  have  remained 
under  Mohammedan  rule.  To  this  day  the  noble 
families  of  Spain  boast,  if  not  always  with  reason, 
of  the  purity  of  their  Gothic  blood. 

For  the  last  traces  of  the  Goths  as  a  separate 
people,  speaking  their  own  language,  we  must,  how- 
ever, look  not  to  Spain,  but  far  away  to  the  east  of 
Europe.  At  the  end  of  the  fourth  century,  when 
the  empire  of  Ermanaric  fell  under  the  yoke  of  the 
Huns,  a  small  remnant  of  the  Ostrogoths  found 
shelter  from  the  savage  invaders  in  the  Crimea,  and 
in  this  remote  corner  of  Europe  they  preserved  their 
existence  as  a  nation  for  more  than  a  thousand  years. 
Early  in  the  fifth  century  they  were  converted  to 
Catholic  Christianity,  and  their  bishops  long  con- 
tinued to  take  part  in  general  councils  of  the  church. 
In  the  year  1562  a  traveller  from  Belgium,  named 
Busbek,  met  with  two  ambassadors  sent  by  this 
little  nation  to  Constantinople,  and  wrote  down  a 
long  list  of  words  belonging  to  their  language.  Of 
course  many  of  these  words  were  greatly  corrupted, 
and  some  of  them  are  not  Gothic  at  all,  but  borrowed 
from  the  laneuasres  of  the  surrounding-  nations.     But 



still  the  list  makes  it  quite  clear  that  the  language 
spoken  by  this  Crimean  people  must  originally  have 
been  the  same  with  that  used  by  Wulfila  in  his 
translation  of  the  Bible. ^  Nearly  two  hundred  years 
later — about  1750 — a  charitable  Jesuit  of  Vienna, 
named  Mondorf,  ransomed  a  prisoner  from  the 
Turkish  galleys,  and  learned  from  him  that  he  came 
from  the  Crimea,  and  that  his  native  language  bore 
some  resemblance  to  German.  It  is  possible  that 
Mondorf  was  not  mistaken,  and  (strange  as  it  seems 
to  think  of  it !)  that  the  language  of  Wulfila  was 
actually  surviving,  in  some  corrupted  shape,  only  a 
century  and  a  half  ago.  Mondorfs  ransomed  captive 
knew  nothing  about  Christianity,  but  said  that  his 
countrymen  worshipped  an  ancient  tree.  Until  the 
eighteenth  century  the  Crimea  was  still  called 
Gothia,  at  least  in  the  official  documents  of  the 
Greek  Church  ;  but   the   name  is  now  gone  out  of 

^  Busbek  was  himself  uncertain  whether  these  people  were  Goths 
or  whether  they  were  Saxons,  some  of  whom,  he  thought,  Charles  the 
Great  might  possibly  have  transported  into  the  Crimea.  They  were 
sufficiently  numerous  to  furnish  a  body  of  eight  hundred  matchlock-men 
to  the  Tatar  Khan,  and  had  two  towns,  called  Mancup  and  Scivarin 
About  forty  of  the  words  that  Busbek  ^ives  were  recognised  by  him  as 
resembling  his  own  Flemish.  Some  of  these  are  in  form  much  nearer 
to  Wulfila's  Gothic  than  to  any  other  Teutonic  language  :  thus  goUz 
"gold,"  mine  "moon,"  schlipcn  "sleep,"  are  in  Wulfila  gtclth,  ?fiena, 
slepan.  Of  the  words  which  Busbek  failed  to  recognise  as  Teutonic 
several  are  known  to  be  genuine  Gothic,  as  statz  "  earth,"  "  ground  '' 
(for  staths  "place"),  ael  "stone"  (for  hallu-?,),  boar  "boy"  (for 
barn),  ivichtgata  "white"  (for  hweiia/a),  mycha  "sword"  (for  meki), 
and  the  pronouns  tzo,  ies,  "thou,"  "he"  (for  thzi,  is).  The  numerals 
up  to  ninety  can  be  identified  as  Gothic,  but  the  words  given  by  Busbek 
as  standing  for  a  hundred  and  a  thousand  are,  curiousl/  enough,  good 


use,  and,  so  far  as  we  know,  the  Gothic  language 
is  wholly  extinct 

So  ends  the  story  of  the  once  mighty  nation  of 
the  Goths.  Many  other  peoples  that  have  played 
as  famous  a  part  in  history  have  passed  away  ;  but 
they  have  left  behind  them  abundant  monuments 
of  their  ancient  greatness.  With  the  Goths  it  has 
been  otherwise.  They  have  bequeathed  to  the 
world  no  treasures  of  literature,  no  masterpieces  of 
art,  no  splendid  buildings.^  They  have  left  no  con- 
spicuous impress  on  the  manners  or  the  institutions 
of  any  modern  European  people.  The  other  great 
Teutonic  nations  that  overran  the  Roman  Empire 
have  their  memorial  in  the  modern  names  of  the 
countries  which  they  conquered.  The  Franks  have 
given  their  name  to  France,  the  Burgunds  to  Burgundy, 
the  Langobards  to  Lombardy,  and  the  Vandals  to  An- 
dalusia. But  of  the  conquests  and  dominion  of  the 
Goths  not  even  such  slight  record  remains. 

Yet  though  the  Goths  have  passed  away,  leaving 
behind  them  so  little  to  show  what  once  they  were, 
their  memory  can  never  die.  History  cannot  forget 
the  people  whose  valour  shook  the  decaying  Roman 
Empire  to  its  fall,  and  prepared  the  way  for  the  rise 
of  a  worthier  civilization  on  the  ruins  of  the  old.     In 

'  What  we  miscall  "Gothic  architecture"  has  no  historical  con- 
nection with  the  Goths.  The  few  buildings  of  theirs  which  are  pre- 
served are  in  a  wholly  different  style.  When  the  word  "  Gothic  "  was 
first  applied  to  the  pointed  style  of  architecture,  it  was  meant  to  denote 
the  opposite  of  "  Roman."  Yet,  after  all,  this  use  of  the  name  is  a  sort  of 
memorial  of  the  former  greatness  of  the  Goths,  because  it  is  founded 
on  the  correct  notion  that  there  was  once  a  time  when  the  Romans  and 
the  Goths  were  the  two  chief  peoples  of  the  Western  world. 



their  work  of  destruction  they  succeeded  ;  whenever 
they  tried  to  build  up  they  failed.  But  it  is  some- 
thing to  have  attempted  nobly ;  and,  for  all  the 
sadness  of  its  ending,  the  history  is  not  wholly  in- 
glorious that  records  the  saintly  heroism  of  Wulfila, 
the  chivalrous  magnanimity  of  Totila,  and  the  wise 
and  beneficent  statesmanship  of  Theoderic. 






Readers  of  books  on  Gothic  history  are  often  puzzled  by 
finding  that  the  same  name  is  often  spelt  quite  differently  by 
different  writers.  The  reason  is  that  the  Gothic  names  have 
come  down  to  us  in  the  works. of  Greek  and  Latin  authors,  who 
have  spelt  them  in  the  manner  that  seemed  to  themselves  best 
fitted  to  express  the  foreign  sounds.  If  Englishmen  had  to  spell 
French  or  German  names  by  ear,  without  knowing  any  system 
of  orthography  but  that  of  their  own  language,  we  should  find 
that  the  same  name  would  seldom  be  spelt  alike  by  two  different 
persons.  Just  so  it  often  happens  that  a  Gothic  name  is  given 
by  two  ancient  writers  in  forms  so  widely  apart  that  it  is  not 
easy  to  see  that  the  same  person  is  referred  to.  Modern  his- 
torians sometimes  choose  one  or  other  of  the  forms  given  in 
their  original  authorities,  and  sometimes  they  prefer  to  spell  the 
names  in  the  correct  Gothic  manner.  To  adopt  this  last  course 
would  often  be  very  awkward,  for  we  should  have  to  use  such 
uncouth  and  unpronounceable  combinations  of  letters  as  Thiu- 
dareiks  and  Audawakrs,  instead  of  Theoderic  and  Odovacar. 
The  plan  which  has  been  followed  in  this  book  is  that  of  giving 
well-known  names  in  their  most  usual  modern  spelling,  and  in 
other  cases  to  come  as  near  to  the  true  Gothic  form  as  is 
possible  without  making  the  names  difficult  to  pronounce  ac- 
cording to  ordinary  English  rules.  Where  the  Gothic  form  of 
a  name  cannot  be  ascertained,  the  Greek  or  Latin  spelling  has 
mostly  been  left  unaltered. 


The  names  borne  by  the  Goths  were  very  much  of  the  same 
sort  as  those  used  among  the  Anglo-Saxons  and  the  other 
ancient  Teutonic  nations.  There  are  many  books  which  profess 
to  explain  the  meanings  of  Anglo-Saxon  or  Old  German  names  ; 
thus  Frederick  is  often  said  to  mean,  "  one  who  rules  in  peace." 
This,  however,  is  altogether  a  mistake.  The  fact  is  that  old 
Teutonic  names  (at  least  those  of  them  which  are  compounded 
of  two  words)  were  not  usually  intended — like  some  of  those  in 
the  Bible— to  express  any  particular  meaning.  Certainly  the 
name  Frederic  is  formed  of  a  word  meaning  "  peace "  and  a 
word  meaning  "ruler."  But  the  true  explanation  is  that  F7'ed- 
was  one  of  a  number  of  which  it  was  customary  to  use  as  begin- 
nings of  names,  and  -rlc  was  one  of  the  words  which  it  was 
customary  to  use  as  endings.  Any  word  belonging  to  the  one 
list  might  be  joined  to  any  word  in  the  other  list,  even  if  the  two 
were  quite  contradictory  in  sense.  There  are,  for  instance, 
ancient  German  names,  which,  if  translated  literally,  would  be 
"peace-spear,"  and  "peace-war." 

A  glance  at  the  list  of  words  used  by  Goths,  Anglo-Saxons,  or 
ancient  Germans  in  forming  personal  names  would  be  sufficient 
to  show,  if  we  did  not  know  already,  that  these  peoples  delighted 
greatly  in  war.  They  are,  for  the  most  part,  words  like 
"  war,"  "  battle,"  "victory,"  "spear,"  "army,"  "  brave,"  "  fortu- 
nate." Amongst  them  are  also  names  of  savage  animals,  chiefly 
"wolf"  and  "bear."  Names  of  foreign  nations,  too,  are  found 
in  the  list.  This  looks  at  first  sight  curious  ;  but  when  an  Anglo- 
Saxon  called  his  son  Peohthere  (Pict-army),  or  when  a  Goth 
called  his  son  Winithaharyis  (Wend-army),  he  probably  meant 
to  express  a  hope  that  the  boy  would  grow  up  to  be  a  great  con- 
queror of  Picts  or  Wends.  So  at  least  it  must  have  been  when 
these  names  were  first  coined  ;  but,  in  later  time,  when  they 
were  established  in  use,  parents  would  give  them  to  their 
children  with  as  little  thought  of  the  meaning  as  modern 
parents  have  when  they  call  a  daughter  Ursula  ("little  she- 

The  following  is  a  list  of  some  of  the  most  frequent  words 
used  in  the  formation  of  Gothic  names,  with  their  meanings, 
and  the  corresponding  forms  that  were  used  in  Anglo-Saxon 




I. — Words  used  for  beginnings  of  names  : 


"  terrible." 


"  war,"       A.S. 



"lofty,''  (?)A.S.Eormen- 


"Hun"(?)    ,, 



"  temple,"     ,,    Ealh- 


"  effort,  toil"  (?) 


"people,"     ,, 



"  spirit,  courage." 


"  mighty,"    ,, 



"god,"       A.S.  Os- 


"  noble,"       ,,     ^thel- 


"brave,"        ,, 



"year  "  {?) 


"wealth,"     ,,     Ead- 


"  counsel." 

— ,     /      .. 


"counsel,"    ,, 



"  battle,''       ,,     Beado- 





"bold,"        „     Bald- 

7                               7  7 


"victory,"    ,, 



"day,"          „     Daeg- 


"true."     . 







"peace,"       ,,   Freothu- 


"  daring." 
"people,"      ,, 



"  spear,"       ,,     Gar- 




"  country.'"' 


"good,"        ,,     God- 


"fighting."    ,, 







"battle,"       ,,     Guth- 





"army,"        ,,     Here- 


"wolf,"         ,, 



"high,"         „     Heah-     ■ 

2. — Words  used  as  endings.  (In  the  names  as  they  appear 
in  modern  books,  the  final  s,  which  is  the  name  of  the  nomina- 
tive case,  is  generally  omitted.) 


"war,"       A.S. 

-heed  (?) 


"dear,"      A.S. 



"  bright,"      ,, 



"famous,"     ,, 






"protector,"  ,, 



"peaceful,"  ,, 



"daring,"      ,, 


funs     ' 

ready, eager,"    ,, 



"counsel,"    ,, 



"desiring,"  ,, 



"ruler,"         ,, 






"strong,"      M 



"  citizen." 


"watchful,"   ,, 



"army,"        ,, 



"wolf,"          ,) 


And  in  female  names  : 

-gunthnjs  "battle,"    A.S.  -gyth 

-hild[i]s  "war,"  ,,     -hild 

-swintha  "strong"       ,,     swith 



Amongst  the  Goths,  as  among  all  other  peoples,  diminutives 
or  "pet  names"  were  formed  from  ordinary  pet  names  by 
shortening  them  and  adding  an  affix.  This  affix  was  usually 
-ila,  but  sometimes  -ika.  Thus  such  a  name  as  Audamer-s 
might  become  Audila  or  Merila  ;  Wulfareiks  might  become 
Wulfila  or  Reikila.  But  just  as  in  modern  timies  children  are 
sometimes  christened  Harry  or  Lizzie,  so  these  Gothic  diminu- 
tives were  often  used  as  regular  names,  as  in  the  case  of  Bishop 
Wulfila  and  King  Badwila  or  Totila. 

There  were  other  Gothic  names,  formed  from  the  roots  of 
verbs,  or  from  other  words,  by  adding  the  syllable  a  or  ya,  as 
Liuba  (Leuva),  from  litcfs,  dear  ;  Walya,  from  walyan,  to  choose  ; 
Wraihya  (Uraias),  from  ivreihaii^  to  protect.  In  some  cases  the 
names  ending  in  -a  seem  to  be  contractions  or  compressions  of 
longer  names,  as  Wamba,  perhaps  for  Wandilbairhts  ;  Gaina^ 
for  Gaisananths.  It  was  not  often  that  the  Goths  used  ordinary 
nouns  or  adjectives  as  personal  names,  but  a  few  instances  do 
occur,  such  as  Wisunths  (Wisandus),  "  Bison,"  which  was 
originally  a  nickname,  but  is  found  applied  to  certain  persons 
as  a  regular  name. 



Abritta,  battle  of,  28 

Aetius,  Roman  general,  108 

Agila,  king  of  the  Visigoths,  318 

Alamans,  the,  178,  312 

Alaric  I.,  king  of  the  Visigoths, 

Alaric  11. ,  king  of  the  Visigoths, 

118-124,  146,  151,  175,  179 
Alatheus,  Gothic  chief,  46,  72 
Alawiw,  judge  of   the  Visigoths, 

Albes,  Gothic  envoy  to  Belisarius, 

Albinus,  Roman  senator,  182 

Alexander,  nicknamed  "  Scis- 
sors," 277 

Aligern,  Ostrogothic  commander, 

Aliquaca,  Gothic  chief,  40 
Amala,  13 
Amalaric,  king  of  the  Visigoths, 

124,  180,  315 
Amalaswintha,  daughter  of  Theo- 

deric,  175,  187,  191 
Amalings,  13,  24,  46 
Anastasius,  Emperor  of  the  East, 

156,  178,  180 
Anchialus,  34 
Anses,  deities  worshipped  by  the 

Goths,  13 
Ant£e,  a  Slavonic  people,  47 
Appian  Way,  242,  249 
Aquitania,  106 
Araric,  Gothic  king,  41 
Arcadius,   Emperor  of  the  East, 

84  ;  column  erected  by,  9 

Architecture,   i6l  ;    the  so-called 

"Gothic,"  365 
Argait,  Gothic  commander,  26 
Arian  Christianity,  59,  117,  185 
Aries,  180 

Asbad  the  Gepid,  307 
Asia  Minor,  ravaged  by  Goths,  32 
Asinarian  gate  (at  Rome),  225,  292 
Aspar  the  Patrician,  133 
Atawulf,    king  of  the   Visigoths, 

Athalaric,  king  of  the  Ostrogoths, 

176,  187,  192 
Athanagild,  king  of  the  Visigoths, 


Athanagild,  son  of  Ermenagild, 


Athananc,  50-55,  58  ;  visits  Con- 
stantinople, and  dies  there,  80 

Athens,  the  Goths  at,  32,  85 

Attalus,  made  Western  emperor 
by  Alaric,  94  ;  deposed,  95  ;  his 
fate,  103 

Attila,  king  of  the  Huns,  111-114 

Audafleda,  wife  of  Theoderic  the 
Great,  175 

Audathoeus,  Gothic  commander, 

Aurelian,     Roman    emperor,    36, 

Avitus,  1 10  ;  made  Emperor  of  the 

West,  115 


Balamber,  king  of  the  Huns,  46 
Balthings,  the,  13,  85,  103 
Basques,  332,  341,  344,  359 



Battle  of  Galtis,  26  ;  of  Abritta, 
28;  of  Naissus,  35;    of  Hadria- 
nople,  72;   on  the  Marosh,  42; 
of    Pollentia,   87  ;     of  Verona, 
147  ;  ofMoircy,  112  ;  of  Voclad, 
124;  of  theUlca,  146;  ofTadino 
(Taginae),  306  ;  of  Mons  Lacta- 
rius,  310;    of  Casilinum,   313; 
of  the  Guadalete,  360 
Belisarius,  199,  207,  275,  285-297 
Berismund,  Amaling  prince,  47 
Bessa  the  Goth,  general  of  Justi- 
nian, 216,  225,  232,  288,  290, 

"  Bigot,"   perhaps    derived    from 

"Visigoth,"  329 
Boethius,  165,  166,  183,  184;  his 

famous  book,  183 
Bolsena,  lake  of,  204 
Bow,  used  by  Roman  horsemen, 

Brunihild,     queen,     daughter    of 

Athanagild,  319 
Bucharest  king,  18 
Bulgars,    the,    early    mention  of, 

Burgunds,  the,  26,  107,  121 
Busbek,  Belgian  traveller,  363 


Calendar,  Gothic,  4 

Cassiodorus,  157,  161,  165,  168, 
192,  204,  251-253 

Chalcedon,  31 

Chilperic,  Prankish  king,  319 

Christians,  persecuted  by  Athan- 
aric,  55,  58 

Classis,  the  port  of  Ravenna,  271 

Claudian,  the  post,  87 

Claudius,  Visigothic  general,  331 

Claudius  Gothicus,  Roman  em- 
peror, 34-36 

Clotaire  see  Hlodhari 

Clotilda,  wife  of  Amalaric,  316 

Clovis  (Hlodwlg)  king  of  the 
Franks,  118,  178 

Cniva,  Gothic  king,  27 

Code,  Theoderic's,  170 

Column  of  Theodosius,  9 

Conon,  Roman  general,  281-283 

Constantine,  Roman  emperor,  39 
Constantinople    made  the  capital 

of  the  Roman  Empire,  40 
Constantius  Roman  emperor,  58 
Costume  of  the  Goths,  9 
"  Count  of  the  Goths,"  the,  169 
Crimea,  31,  41,  363 
Cumae,  309 

Dacia,  the  Goths  in,  37 
Dagobert,  Frankish  king,  337 
Dalmatia,  168,  209,  213 
Danube,  river,  26,  58,  66 
Decius,  Roman  emperor,  26-28 
Dexippus,  s^ 
"  Diana  of  the  Ephesians,"  temple 

of,  burnt,  32 
Dietrich  of  Bern,  172 
Diocletian,  Roman  emperor,  39 
Dnieper,  river,  45 
Dniester,  river,  5,  34,  55 
Durazzo,  197 


Egica,    king    of     the    Visigoths, 

Ephesus  taken  by  the  Goths,  32 
Epiphanius,     bishop     of      Pavia, 

153-155'  158 
Eraric,  king  of  the  Ostrogoths,  279 
Ermanaric,  Gothic  king,  43,  46 
Ermanfrid,  king  of    the    Thurin- 

gians,  175 
Ermenegild,    son    of    Leovigild, 

Erwig,    king   of    the    Visigoths, 

Euric,  king  of  the  Visigoths,  1 16 
Eutharic,  175 

Famines,  68,  266,  282,  291 
Fastida,  king  of  the  Gepids,  26 
Filimer,  Gothic  king,  23 
Flaminian  Way,  226,  256 
Florence   besieged   by    Radagais, 

Florinda,  daughter  of  Count  Julian, 




Forum  Trebonii,  28 
Franks,  107,  120-123,  223 
Frithigern,  judge  of  the  Visigoths, 

50.  ^55 >  65-80 

Gainathi   Goth,  Roman   general, 

his  rebellion,  99 
Gaisericking  of  the  Vandals,  115 
Galla  Placidia,   Roman    princess, 

100 ;     marries    Atawulf,     loi  ; 

her  subsequent  fate,  105 
Gallienus,    Roman   emperor,    30, 

Gallus,  Trebonianus,  Roman 
emperor,  29,  30 

Galtis,  battle  near,  26 

Gaul,  first  entered  by  Visigoths, 
100  ;  foundation  of  the  Visigoth 
kingdom  in,  103  ;  conquered 
by  Clovis,  125  ;  territories  of 
the  later  Visigoths  in,  321,  343- 


Geberic,  Gothic  king,  41 

Geleswintha,  Visigothic  princess, 

Gepids,  7,  26,  146,  177 

Germanus,  nephew  of  Justinian, 
275,  301,  302  ;  his  son  Germa- 
nus, 302 

Getes  (Getie),  19 

Glycerius,  Emperor  of  the  West, 
126,  137 

Godegisel,  king  of  the  Burgunds, 

Goiswintha,     Visigothic      queen, 

323.  330 
'■  Gothic  architecture,     falsely  so 

called,  36/^ 
Gothic  language,  4,  62 ;  last  traces 

of,  364 
Gothland,  8 
Goths,   appearance    and    costume 

of,    9 ;    national    character   of, 

II  ;  religion  of,  13 
Gotones,  mentioHed  by   Tacitus, 

Gratian,   Emperor   of  the   West, 

Greece  ravaged  by  the  Goths,  32; 

campaign  of  Alaric  in,  85,  86 

Greutungs,  5 
Grimm,  Jacob,  5 
Guadalete,  battle  of  the,  360 
Gudelina,  wife  of  Theodahad,  205 
Gundemar,  Visigothic  king,  334 
Gundobad,  king  of  the  Burgunds, 

117,  120,  126,  155 
Guntharic,  Gothic  general,  26 
Guntram  (Guntchramn),  Frankish 

king,  331 
Gutans,  the   native   name  of  the 

Goths,  5 
Guttones,  nientioned  by  Pliny,  i 


Hadrianople,  battles  at,  40,  73- 

75  ;  siege  of,  76 
Hadrian's  tomb,  238,  241,  299 
Halya,  the  goddess,  15,  24 
Halyarunos,  24 
Hart's  Ford,  the,  123 
Heathenism  of  the  Goths,  13 
Herules,  8,  23,  32,  33,  128 
Hildebert,  Frankish  king,  317 
Hilderic   rebels  against   Wamba, 


Hildibad  chosen  king  of  the  Ostro- 
goths, 272  ;  his  death,  278 

Hildiger,  Roman  general,  258, 

Hlodhari  (Clotaire),  Frankish  king, 

Hlodowig,  see  Clovis 
Honorius,   Emperor  of  the  West, 

Hrethgotan,  8 
Hunimund,  Gothic  king,  47 
Fluns,  46-49,  III- II 4 

Ibba,    Ostrogothic   general,    158, 

Ingunthis,    wife    of   Ermenegild, 

322,  325 
Isonzo,  river,  146 


Jews,  treated  kindly  by  Theoderic, 
159  ;  their  gratitude,  217  ;  per- 
secuted by  Sisebut,  334  ;  con- 
spire against  the  Visigoths,  355 



John,  the  grandson  of  Vitalian, 
Roman  general,  253,  255, 
258-263,  304 

John  I.,  pope,  185 

Jordanes,  7,  19,  23,  24,  26,  41, 
46,  48,  113,  124,  165 

Julian,  Count,  359 

Julian,  St.,  archbishop  of  Toledo, 

Julius,    minister   of   the    Eastern 

Empire,  78,  79 
Justinian,    Emperor    of  the  East,  . 

197,  198-314 


Kindaswinth,    king    of    the  Visi- 
^goths,  339 
Kindila,    king  of    the  Visigoths, 


Laurel-grove  (Ravenna),  palace  of 

the,  150 
Legends  relating    to    Theoderic, 

Leo,  Emperor  of  the  East,  133 
Leovigild,  king  of  the  Visigoths, 

321-326  j 

Leuva  I.,   king  of  the  Visigoths, 

Leuva  IL,  king  of  the  Visigoths, 

Liberius,  Roman  minister  of  Odo- 

vacar  and  Theoderic,  156 
Libraries  at  Athens,  spared  by  the 

Goths,  32 
Licinius,  Constantine's  war  with, 

Litorius,  Roman  general,  108,  no 
Lupicinus,  67-69 


Manners  of  the  Goths,  12 
Marcian,    Emperor  of    the   East, 


Marcianopolis,  26,  68 

Martin,  Roman  general,  243,  264 

Mataswintha,  daughter  of  Amalas- 

wintha,    219,     223,    255,    268, 

275.  301 
Maximus,  governor  of  Thrace,  67 

Maximus,  Emperor  of  the  West, 


Milan,  147,  264 

Milvian  Bridge,  227,  256 

Moesia,  26,  27,  29,  58,  59 

Mondorf,  his  account  of  a  Crimean 
Goth,  364 

Mons  Lactarius,  310 

Mullenhoff,  Karl,  i  note 

Mundilat  he  Goth,  Roman  general, 

Mundo  the  Hun,  177 

Mundus  the  Gepid,  Roman  gene- 
ral, 209,  212 

Naissus,  35 
Naples,  siege  of  by  Belisarius,  213- 

215  ;  by  Totila,  281 
Narbonne,  loi,  180,  316,  343,  345. 
Narses,  261-263,  302-314 
Naulobatus,  Herule  chief,  34 
Nepos,     Julius,    Emperor  of  the 

West,  126,  130 
Nicomedia,  31 
Nicopolis,  27 
Nimes,  345,  347 
Novje,  145 


Odovacar,  1 28-1 51 

Orestes,  126-127 

Orleans  besieged  by  Attila,  112 

Ostrogotha,  Gothic  king,  24-26 

Ostrogoths,  5,  39,  46,  67,  72,  JT,, 


Palermo,  209 

Paris,  117 

Paul  of  Cilicia,  299 

Paul  the  Greek,  his  rebellion 
against  Wainba,  343-348 

Pavia  (Ticinum),  148,  153 

Pelagius,  289,  293,  294 

Peter  of  Thessalonica,  ambassa- 
dor of  Justinian,  200,  210 

Philip  the  Arab,  Roman  emperor, 

I'hilippopolis,  27 

Pilzia,  Gothic  general,  177 

Placidia  see  Galla  Placidia 



Pliny  the  elder,  i 

Popes,  John    I,,   185  ;    Silverius, 

223  ;  Vigiliiis,  301 
Priesthood,  heathen,  15 
Procopius,  the  usurper,  53 
Procopius,  the  historian,  251,  266, 

273,  274,  284,  296,  306,  310 
Provence,  180 
Ptolemy,  19 
Pytheas  of  Marseilles,  i 


Radagais  invades  Italy,  89 
Ravenna,  89,    92,    96,    149,   187, 

223,  268-299,  304 
Reccared,  king  of  the  Visigoths, 

Recceswinth,    king    of    the   Visi- 
goths, 339-341 
Regeta,  council  held  at,  218 
Rikimer,  the  emperor-maker,  116 
Rimini  (Ariminum),  149,  259,  304, 

Roderic,    king  of    the   Visigoths, 


Rome,  besieged  by  Alaric,  92, 
94,  96 ;  taken  by  the  Vandals, 
115;  entered  by  Belisarius,  225; 
besieged  by  Witigis,  233-257  ; 
by  Totila,  288-292 ;  deserted 
by  Totila,  295  ;  recovered  by 
Belisarius,  295  ;  regained  by 
Totila,  298 

Romulus  Augustulus,  Emperor  of 
the  West,  127-130 

Rugians,  8,  279 

Runes,  15 

Rusticiana,    widow   of    Eoethius, 


Sacrifices,  see  Heathenism 
Safrax,  Gothic  leader,  47 
Scandinavia,  supposed  early  home 

of  the  Goths,  7 
Scanzia,  island  of,  7 
Scirians,  the,  8,  128 
Sebastian,  Roman  general,  70,  75 
Severinus,  Saint,  128 
Seville,  324 
Sibyl,  pretended  prophecies  of  the 

212,  249 

Sicily  submits  to  Belisarius,  209  ; 

harried  by  Totila,  301 
Sigebert,  P'rankish  king,  319 
Sigeric,  king  of  the  Visigoths,  103 
Sigismond,  king  of  the  Burgunds, 

17s,  181,  184 
"  Silver  Book,"  the,  64 
Silverius,  Pope,  222 
Singidunum,  135,  145 
Sisebert,    archbishop    of    Toledo, 

Sisebut,    king   of    the   Visigoths, 

Sisenanth,  king  of  the  Visigoths, 

Songs,    Gothic,    historic    legends 

derived   from,    7,   23,   42,   117, 


Spain,  first  entered  by  the  Visi- 
goths, 103  ;  conquered  by 
Wallia,  105  ;  governed  by 
Theoderic,  180  ;  history  of, 
under  Visigoth  kings,   315-363 

vSpali,  the,  23 

"  Storied  Column,"  the,  9 

Stilicho,  Roman  general,  85-91 

Sueves,  the,  47,  "7.  321 

Sunigilda,  wife  of  Odovacar,  151 

Swanhilda,  legend  of,  46 

Symmachus,  165 

Synagogues,    burnt     by   fanatics, 



Tacitus  mentions  the  Gotones,  2 

Taxation,  157 

Taylor,  Dr.  Isaac,  his  theory  of 
the  Runes,  18 

Tela,  304 ;  his  reign  over  the 
Ostrogoths,  308-310 

Tervings,  5 

Teutonic  languages,  4 

Thelane  (Thela?),  son  of  Odova- 
car, 149-15 I 

Theoderic  the  Great,  48,  122,  133- 


Theoderic  Strabo,  134,  13^-143 

Theoderic  I.,  king  of  the  Visi- 
goths, 107-113 

Theoderic  11. ,  king  of  the  Visi- 
goths, 114-116 

Theodora,  empress,  200,  205 



Theodosius,  Roman  emperor,  64, 

Thermopylee,  85 
Theudebald,  king  of  the  Franks, 


Theudeliert,  king  of  the  Franks, 
266,  300 

Theudemer,  king  of  the  Ostro- 
goths, 48,  135-137 

Theudemer,  governor  of  Southern 
Spain  under  Roderic,  362 

Theudigisel,  king  of  the  Visi- 
goths, 318 

Theudis,  Ostrogothic  viceroy  of 
Spain,  180  ;  king  of  the  Visi- 
goths, 317,  318 

Thrafstila,  king  of  the  Gepids,  146 

Thorismund,  king  of  the  Visigoths, 

113,  114 

Thorismund,    king   of  the  Ostro- 
goths, 47 
Thrace,  26,  27,  29 
Thrasamund,  king  of  the  Vandals, 

Thrasaric,  king  of  the  Gepids,  177 
Thulwin,      Ostrogothic      general, 

178,  181,  191,  197 
Tiw,  perhajDS  worshipped  by  the 

Goths,  13 
Toledo,  councils  at,  330,  337,  353 
Toleration,  Theoderic's  policy  of, 

Tomb  of  Theoderic,  187 
Totila      (Badwila),    king    of    the 

Ostrogoths,  278-308 
Toulouse,    the    Visigoth    capital, 

107  ;  captured  by  Clovis,  124 
Tours,  123 
Traditions  of  the  Gothic  w^ander- 

i'lg,  23 
Trebizond,  31 
Tufa,  148 

Tulga,  king  of  the  Visigoths,  318 
Turcilings,  8 

Ulphilas,  see  Wulfila 
Uraias,   Ostrogothic  general,  260, 
268,  272 


Valens,     Emperor   of   the   East, 

Valentinian   I.,   Roman  emperor, 

^51   . 

Valerian,    Roman    emperor,    30, 

Valerian,  Roman  general,  243 
Vandals,  8,  40,  42,  103,  115 
Venantius,  Fortunatus,  319 
Verona,  battles  at,  88,  147 
Vigilius,  Pope,  301 
Visigoths,  5,  39,  48,  50-125,  148, 

Vistula,  river,  20 


Waladamarca,  Amaling  princess, 

Walamer,  king  of  the  Ostrogoths, 

48,  134  . 
Wallia,    king    of    the    Visigoths, 

Wamba,    king    of  the   Visigoths, 

Wandilhari  "  the  Bison,"  230 
Wideric,  Gothic  king,  46 
Widumer,  uncle  of  Theoderic,  136 
Wilihari    the    Goth,    general    in 

Roman  service,  263,  264 
Winithari,  47 

Wisumar,  king  of  the  Vandals,  42 
Wileric,   king   of    the   Visigoths, 


Witica,    king    of    the   Visigoths, 

Witigis,  king  of  the  Ostrogoths, 

Wittimer,  rebellion  of,  345 
Wodan,    perhaps   worshipped   by 

the  Goths,  13 
Wulfila,  56-64  ;  his  translation  of 
the  Bible,  4,  59 

Zeno,  Emperor  of  the  East,  129, 







The  Story  of  the   Nations. 

Messrs.  G.  P.  PUTNAM'S  SONS  take  pleasure  in 
announcing  that  they  have  in  course  of  publication  a 
series  of  historical  studies,  intended  to  present  in  a 
graphic  manner  the  stories  of  the  different  nations  that 
have  attained  prominence  in  history. 

In  the  story  form  the  current  of  each  national  life  will 
be  distinctly  indicated,  and  its  picturesque  and  noteworthy 
periods  and  episodes  will  be  presented  for  the  reader  in 
their  philosophical  relation  to  each  other  as  well  as  to 
universal  history. 

It  is  the  plan  of  the  writers  of  the  different  volumes  to 
enter  into  the  real  life  of  the  peoples,  and  to  bring  them 
before  the  reader  as  they  actually  lived,  labored,  and 
struggled — as  they  studied  and  wrote,  and  as  they  amused 
themselves.  In  carrying  out  this  plan,  the  myths,  with 
which  the  history  of  all  lands  begins,  will  not  be  over- 
looked, though  these  will  be  carefully  distinguished  from 
the  actual  history,  so  far  as  the  labors  of  the  accepted 
historical  authorities  have  resulted  in  definite  conclusions. 

The  subjects  of  the  different  volumes  will  be  planned 
to  cover  connecting  and,  as  far  as  possible,  consecutive 
epochs  or  periods,  so  that  the  set  when  com.pleted  will 
present  in  a  comprehensive  narrative  the  chief  events  in 
the  great  Story  OF  THE  NATIONS  ;  but  it  will,  of  course 

not  always  prove  practicable  to  issue  the  several  volumes 
in  their  chronological  order. 

The  "Stories"  are  printed  in  good  readable  type,  and 
in  handsome  i2mo  form.  They  are  adequately  illustrated 
and  furnished  with  maps  and  indexes.  They  are  sold 
separately  at  a  price  of  $1.50  each. 

The  following  is  a  partial  list  of  the  subjects  thus  far 

determined  upon  : 

THE  STORY  OF  *ANCIENT  EGYPT.     Prof.  George  Rawlinson. 
"     *CHALDEA.     Z.  A.  Ragozin. 
"     *GREECE.     Prof.  James  A.  Harrison, 

Washington  and  Lee  University. 
"     *ROME.     Arthur  Oilman. 
"     *THE  JEWS.     Prof.  James  K.  Hosmer, 

Washington  University  of  St.  Louis. 
"     *CARTHAGE.     Prof.  Alfred  J.  Church, 

Universitv  College,  London. 

"  *THE  GOTHS.     Henry  Bradley. 
"     *THE  NORMANS.     Sarah  O.  Jewett. 
"    *PERSIA.     S.  G.  W.  Benjamin. 
"     *SPAIN.     Rev.  E.  E.  and  Susan  Hale. 
"     *GERMANY.     S.  Baring-Gould. 
"     HOLLAND.     Prof.  C.  E.  Thorold  Rogers. 
"     *NORWAY.     Hjalmar  H.  Boyesen. 
"     *THE  MOORS  IN  SPAIN.    Stanley  Lane-Poole. 
"     *HUNGARY.     Prof.  A.  VAmbery. 
'•     THE  ITALIAN  KINGDOM.     W.  L.  Alden. 
"     EARLY  FRANCE.     Prof.  Gustave  Masson. 
"     ^ALEXANDER'S  EMPIRE.  Prof.  J.  P.  Mahaffy. 
"     THE  HANSE  TOWNS.     Helen  Zimmern. 
"     *ASSYRIA.     Z.  A.  Ragozin. 
"     *THE  SARACENS.     Arthur  Oilman. 
"     TURKEY,     Stanley  Lane-Poole. 
•'     PORTUGAL.     H.  Morse  Stephens. 
"     MEXICO.     Susan  Hale. 
"     ^IRELAND.     Hon.  Emily  LA^VLESS. 
"     RUSSIA. 
"     WALES. 
"     SCOTLAND. 
*  (The  volumes  starred  are  now  ready,  Februarj^  1888.) 

New  York  London 

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turesque in  history." — Hartford  Courant. 

"  Unquestionably  the  best  history  of  the  Thirty  Years'  War  that  has  ever  been 
written." — Baltimore  A  tnerican. 

A  History  of  American  Literature,  By  Moses  Coit  Tyler,  Professor 
of  American  History  and  Literature  in  Cornell  University.  Bradstreet 
edition.  Vols.  I.  and  II.,  comprising  the  period  1607-1765.  Large 
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Half  calf 5  00 

*'  It  is  not  only  written  in  a  style  of  exceptional  grace,  but  it  is  the  first  of  most 

thorough  research,  and  consequently  it  throws  light  into  a  great  number  of  corners 

that  hitherto  have  been  very  obscure."— Prest.  C.  K.  Adams. 

Prose  Masterpieces  from  Modern  Essayists.  Comprising  single 
specimen  essays  (each  selection  is  tim?nctilated  and  entire)  from  Irving, 
Leigh  Hunt,  Lamb,  De  Quincey,  Landor,  Sydney  Smith,  Thackeray, 
Emerson,  Arnold,  Morley,  Helps,  Kingsley,  Curtis,  Lowell,  Carlyle, 
Macaulay,  Froude,  Freeman,  Gladstone,  Newman,  Leslie  Stephen. 
Compiled  by  G.  H.  Putnam. 

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editor." — Chicago  Tribn7ie. 

"  A  most  admirable  collection,  which  presents  not  only  specimens  of  the  best  Eng- 
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several  writers." — Magazifte  of  American  History. 

G.  P.  PUTNAM'S  SONS,  Publishers,  New  York  and  London. 



i6mo,  paper,  per  volume,  50  cts. 

1  THE  GREAT  FUR  LAND;  or.  Sketches  of  Life  in  the  Hud- 

son Bay  Territory.  By  H.  M.  Robinson.  With  numerous  illus- 
trations from  designs  by  Charles  Gasche. 

"  Mr.  Robinson's  narratives  exhibit  a  freshness  and  glow  of  delineation  founded  on 
a  certain  novelty  of  adventure  which  commands  the  attention  of  the  reader  and  makes  his 
story  as  attractive  as  a  romance." — N.  Y.  Tribune. 

2  ITALIAN  RAMBLES.  By  James  Jackson  Jarves,  author  of  "  The 

Art  Ideal,"  "  Italian  Sights,"  etc. 

"  Picturesque  and  vivid  descriptions  of  people  and  places  in  out-of-the-way  nooks  in 
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3  STUDIES  OF  PARIS.     By  Edmondo  de  Amicis,  author  of  "  Con- 

stantinople," "  Holland  and  It^  People,"  "  Spain  and  the  Span- 
iards," etc. 

"  De  Amicis  has  comprehended  the  manifold  amazement,  the  potent  charm  of  Paris 
as  no  writer  before  him  has  done." — Press ^  Portland. 

4  THE  ABODE  OF  SNOW.     Observations  of  a  tour  from  Chinese 

Thibet  to  the  valleys  of  the  Himalayas.     By  Andrew  Wilson. 

8vo,  with  map. 

"  Worthy  of  the  highest  praise.  There  is  not  a  page  in  the  handsome  volume  of 
nearly  500  pages  which  will  not  repay  perusal.  *  *  *  He  describes  all  he  meets  with 
on  his  way  with  inimitable  spirit." — Londoti  Atkeneetuti. 


bella Bird,  author  of  "  Six  Months  in  the  Sandwich  Islands,"  "  Un- 
beaten Tracks  in  Japan,"  etc. 
"  Miss  Bird  is  an  ideal  writer.     *     *     *     She  has  regard  to  the  essentials  of  a  scene 

or  episode,  and  describes  these  with  a  simplicity  that  is  as  effective  as  it  is  artless." — 

London  Spectator. 


nan,     Seventh  edition. 

T!h&  London  Atkenczum  says:  "We  strongly  recommend  this  book  as  one  of  the 
most  entertaining  volumes  of  travel  that  have  appeared  for  some  years." 

The  London  Spectator  says  it  is  "  racy,  clear,  full  of  humor,  and  full  of  interest." 


7  BY-WAYS  OF  NATURE  AND  LIFE.     By  Clarence  Deming. 

A  series  of  essays  covering  a  wide  variety  of  topics. 

''  These  letters  are  characterized  by  all  the  grace,  elegance,  and  feeling  which  made 
Matthew  Arnold  name  Newman  as  the  first  of  living  writers  of  English  prose." — Critic. 
"  Fresh,  vigorous,  and  always  interesting." — Westtnifister  Review. 

8  CUBAN  SKETCHES.     By  James  W.  Steele. 

"  The  book  gives  a  well-written  tale  of  topics  which  are  of  interest  both  to  tourists 
and  to  those  who  enjoy  travelling  at  their  own  firesides." — Christian  Register. 

''  Well-written,  vivacious,  and  realistic  pictures." — 

"  One  of  the  brightest  and  cleverest  of  the  many  books  which  have  been  written 
about  Cuba." — Boston  Transcript. 

9  UP  THE   RHINE.     By  Tho.s.  Hood.      With  two  steel  engravings, 

and  with  the  author's  original  illustrations  on  wood. 

10  WHIMS  AND  ODDITIES.     By  Thos.  Hood.     Illustrated. 

11  CANOEING  IN  KANUCKIA.  The  Haps  and  Mishaps  on  Sea 
and  Shore  of  the  Statesman,  the  Editor,  the  Artist,  and  the  Scribbler. 
By  C.  L.  Norton  and  John  Habberton.  Very  fully  illustrated. 
Second  edition,  with  supplementary  chapter,  being  details  of  canoes 
constructed  down  to  i8S6. 

"  A  more  enjoyable  book  cannot  well  be  imagined.  It  makes  one  think  of  summer, 
of  rest,  of  recreation,  of  unpremeditated  and  unrestricted  fun." — Albafiy  Argtis. 


BRITTANY.     By  Katherine  S.  and  Thomas  Macquoid.     With 
thirty-four  illustrations. 

The  well-known  author  of  "  Patty  "  has  interwoven  with  some  fascinating  narratives 
of  travel  a  selection  of  Norman  and  Breton  stories  and  legends  which  are  very  quaint  and 
characteristic,  and  her  husband  and  fellow-traveller  has  contributed  a  series  of  charming 
pencil  sketches  of  the  scenery  and  the  people. 

13  THE  GREEKS  OF  TO-DAY.  By  Hon.  Charles  K.  Tuck- 
ERMAN,  late  Minister  Resident  of  the  United  States  at  Athens.  Third 

"  No  one  caji  read  this  book  without  having  his  interest  greatly  increased  in  this 
brave,  brilliant,  and  in  every  way  remarkable  people." — N.  V.  Titnes. 

G.  P.  PUTNAM'S  SONS,  Publishers, 


27  and  29  West  23d  Street.  27  King  William  St.,  Strand. 


Publications  of  g.  p.  putnam's  sons. 

. 1 __ — _ 

The  Isles  of  the  Princes ;  or,  The  Pleasures  of 
Prinkipo.  By  Hon.  Sam'l  S.  Cox,  late  U.  S.  Minister 
to  Turkey.  Author  of  "Arctic  Sunbeams,"  "  Orient  Sun- 
beams," etc.,  etc.  Octavo,  fully  illustrated  .  ^i  75 
Contents. — Prinkipo  :   Its  History,   Government,   People,   Home  Life, 

Monasteries,    and     Libraries — Halki — Plati — Oxia — Beylerbey — Nicaea — 

Nicomedia — Broussa — Olympus San  Stefano — A  Princess — Diplomacy, 


How  to  Travel.  Hints,  Advice,  and  Suggestions  to  Trav- 
ellers by  Land  and  Sea  all  over  the  Globe.  By  Thomas 
W.  Knox,  author  of  "  Life  of  Fulton,"  "  Marco  Polo's 
Travels,"  "  Decisive  Battles  since  Waterloo,"  etc.,  etc. 
i6mo,  cloth        .         .         .         .         .         .         .         $1  00 

"  Every  one  who  contemplates  making  an  extended  journey  will  do  well 
to  master  the  contents  of  *  How  to  Travel.'  It  will  be  dollars  in  his 
pockets  and  peace  and  comfort  to  his  mind." — Boston  Literary  World. 

Two  Years  in  Europe.  By  Rodney  Glisan,  M.  D. 
Octavo,  with  32  full-page  illustrations        .         .         $2  50 

List  of  Illustrations. — San  Francisco — St.  Paul's  Cathedral — West- 
minister Abbey — The  Crystal  Palace — "Windsor  Castle — Hathaway's  Cot- 
tage at  Stratford — Stratford  Church — Scott's  Monument  at  Edinburgh — 
Melrose  Abbey — Abbotsford — Stirling  Castle — Baliol  College,  Oxford — 
Pont  au  Change — Notre  Dame — Hotel  des  Invalides — The  Tomb  of 
Napoleon  in  Paris — Grand  Canal  of  Venice — St.  Mark's  Cathedral,  Venice 
— View  of  Florence — View  of  Milan — St.  Peter's,  Rome  —  The  Forum, 
Rome— The  Gladiator — View  of  Pompeii — View  of  Herculaneum — View  of 
Naples — Heidelberg  Castle — Cologne  Cathedral — Hotel  de  Ville,  Brussels. 

"  The  volume  is  tastefully  printed  and  illustrated,  and  is  a  most  enter- 
taining book  of  travel." — Cincifutati  Ti?nes. 

A  Vacation  in  a  Buggy.  A  narrative  of  a  trip,  by  two 
women,  through  the  Berkshire  Hills.  By  Maria  L.  Pool. 
With  frontispiece.     i6mo,  cloth  extra    .         .         .         .75 

"  The  narrative  is  written  in  a  bright,  easy-going  style,  and  is  thoroughly 
entertaining." — Worcester  Spy. 

"  A  very  sparkling,  entertaining  narrative." — Religiotis  Herald. 

f  G.  P.  PUTNAM'S  SONS,  Publishers,  New  York  and  London 

BD-1 81 


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